The gorgeous green hues on this plate, to me, epitomize spring eating. After all the browns, tans, and beiges of wintertime fare, the pop of color makes my palate perk up in anticipation of all the beautiful berries, corn, tomatoes, and other summertime produce yet to arrive in the local farmers market. As with my previous post for Ramp Butter Popcorn, this is a bit of a recycled recipe in a new format. I’ve written about making Ramp Pesto in the past as a way to prolonging this vegetable’s lifespan in your refrigerator.
Also in season at the moment, if you can find them, are these pea shoots. They have a delicate pea-like flavor and wonderful crunch. For those pea-averse (including several people to whom I’m related), I say, try them. They are a bit more like salad greens than those green orbs you detest. For this dish, they add a nice balance of color and a fresh, crispness that balances out the creamy, garlicky-ness of the pesto. These tidbits are an item that I had created a few weeks back to add to the restaurant menu, so that we could have a locally-sourced, seasonal small plate for patrons to enjoy while sipping on their beers.
From time to time we run some type of crostini on our food selections, and they always tend to be quite popular. They are substantial enough in flavor to satisfy one’s tastebuds while at the same time light enough to be enjoyed as a pre-dinner snack or late-night nibble. Again, these have proven to be a popular item on our menu, as they always sell out, well in advance of my being able to make enough of the toppings.
Crostini with Ramp-Ricotta Pesto & Spring Pea Shoots
Serving Size: Makes about 1 cup of mix
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Baguette or mini-baguettes
Olive Oil for toasting baguettes
1 recipe Ramp Pesto
6-8 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1-2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
Freshly-ground Black Pepper
4 oz. Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow Pea Shoots (you can also substitute seasonal microgreens)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place however many pieces of bread you are planning to serve (allow 3-4 per person) on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Using a pastry brush, dab each piece of bread with olive oil. Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly colored and crisp. Pay close attention to these as, depending upon your oven, they can go from unbaked to burnt quite quickly. Remove from oven a set aside to until ready to use.
Make a batch of Ramp Pesto (click on recipe link). If not eating the crostini immediately or within a few hours, set aside the pesto in an air-tight container and place in the refrigerator. The ramp-ricotta mixture is best eaten as close to the time it is made as possible.
Just before getting ready to serve the crostini, combine ramp pesto with ricotta. It should be a roughly 50-50 mixture. If you can find (or make) fresh ricotta, that would also give a great flavor to this dish. Add 1 tsp. of the lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary, adding a bit more lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and/or pepper. The pesto should have a fresh, not overwhelmingly garlic taste, and a light creaminess from the cheese.
Spread a thin layer of the ramp-ricotta mixture on the crostini. Sprinkle each piece with a few of the snow pea shoots, tearing them into 1-inch pieces, so there aren’t any unwieldy, long tangles of them hanging over the crostini. Grate a bit of fresh lemon zest on top of each crostino. Enjoy for yourself or share with others!
*Kitchen Witch Tip:
Crostini in general are an item perfect for cocktail parties, as a starter before dinner, or even as an afternoon break. They are also easy to prepare in advance, keeping the toasted bread separate from the topping until just about ready to serve them. These can be made the day of use, or stored for a few days in an air-tight container and kept out of the refrigerator. I’ve made piles of them for catered events and the special, themed, dinners that we have in the restaurant, so having the bread base pre-made makes serving them to the hungry guests a much smoother task.