This sweet pea crostini is easy and elegant and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced thanks to the sweetness of peas in tandem with the salty tanginess of pecorino.
These sweet pea crostini taste like spring, regardless of whether you use peas in the pod that you shelled yourself or simply reach into the deep-freeze and grab a bag of frozen ones.–David Leite
☞ Table of Contents
*How Do I Shell Fresh Peas?
If you make this sweet pea crostini with peas in the pod, note that author Suzanne Lenzer likens shelling peas to a moving meditation—a repetitive motion, much like washing dishes, that lulls her into a reflective mood. It helps if you’re sitting on a porch with bare feet and a chilled cocktail at your side, but sitting at the kitchen table works, too. Just pull the stem backwards and unzip along the indented side. Although when fresh peas aren’t available, a walk to the deep-freeze for some frozen peas will have to suffice.
Sweet Pea Crostini
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups (8 to 10 oz) fresh peas* (from about 2 pounds peas in the pod) or frozen peas (do not defrost)
- 1/4 cup Homemade Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 thick slices rustic bread such as baguette or ciabatta
- 2 to 3 ounces pecorino cheese shaved (simply pull a swivel vegetable peeler along the cheese to create thin shavings)
- Fresh mint leaves torn into pieces
- Preheat the broiler.
- In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the peas and tilt the pan to coat them in the butter. Then add the chicken stock or vegetable broth, bring everything to a simmer, and continue to cook just until the peas turn bright green, 1 or 2 minutes for fresh peas and 4 to 8 minutes for frozen peas.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove half the peas to a bowl. Dump the remaining peas and their cooking liquid in a food processor or blender and purée until combined and just slightly chunky. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and continue to process until fairly smooth. Season with salt and pepper (but go easy on the salt since you’ll be serving the purée with pecorino).
- Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet and slide under the broiler until just beginning to brown on the edges, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Spread a dollop of the pea purée over each toast and smear it all the way to the edges. Top with a generous sprinkling of the reserved whole peas, a few shavings of pecorino, and fresh mint leaves.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These sweet pea crostini were delicious as a lunch, appetizer, and breakfast! The sweetness of the peas contrasted nicely with the cheese and the mint added a nice finishing touch. I also added a sprinkle of Maldon salt. I used frozen peas and vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
I wasn’t really sure if the peas should cool before blending but I puréed them while hot using an immersion blender. The butter melted into the hot peas and resulted in a fairly smooth, liquid purée. I wasn’t eating the peas right away, so I set the mixture aside. Once it cooled and the butter solidified just a little, it became less liquid and a little more spreadable.
As there were just two of us, I toasted bread in my toaster instead of using the broiler. We both really enjoyed the crostini. I would say that this recipe would serve 8 as an appetizer. (As I ate some of the purée with a spoon straight out of the container, my yield won’t be 8 servings!)
It’s a bit too early for fresh peas where I live, so I tested this sweet pea crostini recipe with frozen peas and it worked beautifully. The sharp pecorino was fantastic with the sweetness of the peas (but do go easy on the salt). In addition to mint, I tried fresh basil (a member of the mint family) on some of the servings and that was equally great.
You can make the purée a day ahead as the green color stays fresh. The spread was pretty smooth but not completely, due to the skin of the peas—just bring it to room temperature before spreading as refrigeration makes the consistency slightly stiff.
Since the “real estate” of ciabatta is modest, the puréed peas could accommodate 10 slices, but this all depends on how thickly you smear the spread. One crostini per person is adequate as a starter; two would make a very nice light lunch. I’m thrilled that I can make the scrumptious crostini all year around!
This sweet pea crostini recipe is easy and tastes good. I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make the dish vegetarian. The pecorino adds a great little snap to the dish, too. Note that you have to really like peas because that is truly the strongest flavor.
I used a local small Italian boule that worked really well. I think it could actually serve 8 to 10 if you had smaller slices of bread as the serving size is almost entirely dependent on bread slices, and if you had very small slices of bread, you could use this as an appetizer at a party. The purée doesn’t turn out as smooth as something without skins, especially since you’re really not cooking the peas for very long; however, it definitely can get towards a smooth consistency if you scrape it down.
A very easy-to-put-together appetizer for two or for a crowd. The fresh pea flavor (even if you are using frozen petite peas) is a bright and cheerful green with a fresh sweetness. You could make this sweet pea crostini at the last minute, as cooking the peas and making the purée takes only minutes, but it also would be easy to make ahead for a party, assembling everything at the last moment on baguette crostini slices.
The purée itself seems a little delicate, so it probably would be okay to cut back a little on the butter or stock for a firmer texture, but even with a sourdough rye, the pea spread did not drip through any airy holes. The second time I made this, I lightly mashed the reserved whole peas and folded them into the purée to see if, as a make-ahead idea, that would work. It does just fine.
The flavors are clear and simple—nothing else is needed although I added some threads of lemon zest for a little brightness and I liked that. It also looked nice with the mint and pecorino. For those who find the peas a bit sweet (fresh ones might be less sweet), a mixture of cooked shelled edamame blended with the peas would also work. I kept the recipe vegetarian by using 1/4 cup homemade vegetable broth in place of chicken stock, and was restrained in salting the peas (1/4 teaspoon kosher salt) since the cheese would add salt and added a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. This recipe would make 8 to 10 crostini using a 5-inch wide bâtard sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices or about 24 slender baguette slices. Easy and delicious for last-minute guests or when you get a bumper crop of fresh peas.