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A Fresh Take on Early Spring Peas

Have you ever rummaged through the freezer and come across something you had meant to do something with long ago? This is exactly what happened to me this week as I uncovered a bag of peas from last year's CSA delivery. I knew I would get around to cooking with them one day, and with more on the way with the new season, I didn't want to let them wait any longer. I enjoyed this recipe so much that I can't wait to make it with some of this year's crop, too.

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 tsp butter
  • 2 large shallots or 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 5 small sage leaves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or about 1 1/2 lbs fresh peas, shucked)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Pea shoots or broccoli sprouts for garnish
  • Piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Start by draining your ricotta through a cheese cloth or fine sieve. Lightly oil 2 oven-safe ramekins. Divide ricotta between the two dishes and place in a 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes, allowing the cheese to set up and become firm. You may want to place under a broiler to lightly toast the top of the cheese.

Remove the ramekins from the oven and sprinkle with bread crumbs, then return to the oven for 10-12 minutes.

While the ramekins are in the oven, heat your butter until melted in a small sauce pan. Add the shallots and sage and heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the peas and 1/2 of a cup of water, stirring to incorporate, and heat the peas about another 3-4 minutes while making sure they keep their bright green color. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Top the ricotta with pea shoots or broccoli sprouts, and then spoon the pea mixture over the ricotta.

Lightly grate fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano on top and serve immediately.

This is an amazing use for early spring peas, and can be served as a light lunch or in smaller individual ramekins as a side dish. One thing's for sure — it will disappear quickly!