Peas were definitely one of those vegetables that fell into the same category as... lets say, carrots. Uneventful, unimportant, a vegetable that had no real impact what-so-ever, a side vegetable compared to other vegetables like heirloom tomatoes, which I can definitely get excited about.
However as a way to spice up my kitchen life, I decided this year as a kind of New Year's resolution that I would try to be more adventurous- at this point this means #1- less meat (and for the time being, when I say "less" I mean none at all, the baby I'm carrying doesn't have a taste for flesh apparently), and #2- to cook and make things that I don't usually. I often read a recipe and decide in my mind whether that recipe would taste good or not which ultimately is the way in which I decide what to make. This year I've made up my mind to accept the fact that there's a lot I don't know about taste and flavors and it's not for me to decide whether it tastes good or not until I've tried it, which means... cooking it.
So with the adventurous spirit of my New Year's resolution in mind I decided to make a dish featuring PEAS! And I will tell you this now, I will never see peas the same way ever again.
I decided to make Pea Pesto Crostini from Giada De Laurentiis' cookbook Giada At Home, Family Recipes from Italy and California. Explained in simpler terms the recipe is a toast spread made of peas. The beauty of this recipe is that it is absolutely ABSOLUTELY delicious, and simple to make, AND, uses but a few ingredients! In this way the Pea Pesto Crostini is a great dish to put out for parties and a great dish to put together if you're in need of a little bit of something else on the table but regardless of why it will be the talk of dinner, and of course it's beautiful green color doesn't hurt.
I made the Pea Pesto Crostini and naturally did not know what to expect, I've never in my life had a dish featuring peas before. I took a small spoon to do a taste test, I could have stood there eating spoonfuls had it not been for my will-power, yes, that good. I never knew peas were sweet, this pea pesto is obviously playing off the natural sweetness of the peas, the garlic which hardly noticeable at all lent a tad of bite that was barely discernable, the olive oil gave the pea pesto a luxurious consistency that also lent the dish moistness, and the tang of the parmesan combined to make beautiful music with the sweet roughly pureed peas. Served on top of thick bread that was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside was absolute heaven! As a dipping for cucumber spears, the pea pesto was also fantastic! I will never see peas the same way every again.
INGREDIENTS for 4-6 servings:
1 (10-ounce) package of frozen peas, thawed - I used Trader Joe's Organic frozen peas (16-ounces), they were so sweet and delicious
1 Garlic clove - I used two garlic cloves since I love garlic and I was also using 6-ounces more peas than the recipe was asking for, it was perfect
1/2 Cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2/3 Cup olive oil
8 (1/2-inch thick) slices whole-grain baguette or ciabatta bread, preferably day-old - I didn't have a baguette or ciabatta so I used what I had, whole grain sunflower seed bread, it was more than fine! Fantastic even!
8 Cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 small tomato diced - the cherry tomato garnish is optional
1. Pulse together in a food processor the peas, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. [I would suggest using 1/2 the salt asking for and then add more after tasting the pesto when you are half-way through making it. Some parmesans are saltier than others and if you have really flavorful peas you may not want to drown that out with too much salt, always remember you can always add more but taking out is a little bit harder to do, especially with salt].
2. With the machine still running, slowly add 1/3 cup of olive oil and continue to mix until well combined, 1-2 minutes more. [I used less olive oil, I simply drizzled in olive oil and stopped when I felt the consistency had reached the point where it was just right for me. The more olive oil you use the more smooth the pesto will be, I personally like mine with a bit of texture so used less olive oil].
3. Season with more salt & pepper if needed.
4. Preheat a stovetop griddle or grill pan over med-high heat.
5. Brush both sides of each of the bread slices with the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and grill until golden 1-2 minutes.
6. Top each slice of crostini with 1-2 tablespoons of the pea pesto and top with 2 tomato halves. [Topping with tomatoes are totally optional, I simply cut my tomatoes in half and put them on the side].