Bruschetta with English Peas, Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, and Mint
Yields 4 servings
from Chef Jacques Larson of Wild Olive, Charleston, South Carolina
2 1-inch slices artisanal bread (a good option is Normandy Farm's ciabatta)
1 garlic clove
½ cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh English peas, blanched and shocked
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pinch of chili flakes
2 tablespoons mint, chopped chiffonade
1 cup sheep's milk or cow's milk ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
A version of what we now know as bruschetta perhaps originated in Central/Southern Italy as early as the 15th century. At the time, stale bread was charred and rubbed with garlic and olive oil to make what was known as a poor man’s meal. Today, we gladly toast up day old ciabatta, rub it with EVOO, a clove of garlic, and pile on any number of delicious seasonal toppings—making it a beautiful and delicious snack that is anything but a poor man’s meal.
Preheat grill. Slice garlic clove in half and rub the bread slices with garlic to infuse with garlic flavor. Drizzle the bread pieces with some extra virgin olive oil, reserving some oil for the pea topping.
In a bowl, combine the remaining olive oil, peas, lemon juice, lemon zest, chili flakes, and mint. Season the pea mixture to taste with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. The mixture should be very acidic and seasoned well.
Grill the two bread pieces to lightly char both sides. While warm, spread the ricotta cheese on both pieces of bread. Cut the slices in half to create four pieces of bruschetta. Using the ricotta to anchor the peas, mound the mixture onto the bread.
Place the assembled bruschetta onto a plate and drizzle once again with extra virgin olive oil and perhaps a mint sprig.