A good sourdough has tang, texture and chew and is just what you want to cushion this verdant purée of peas and herbs.
10 half-slices good sourdough bread Extra virgin olive oil 500g (about 1 pound) fresh peas (or 1½ cups frozen baby peas) 2 Tbsp peeled and chopped shallots Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 Tbsp chopped chervil 1 Tbsp chopped mint 150g (5 ounces) sheep’s milk feta (or creamy cow’s feta), thinly sliced Lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 Lightly brush bread with extra virgin olive oil. Grill the bread carefully over a barbecue grill rack heated to medium, or in a hot ridged grill pan, until lightly charred. Be warned – the bread will quickly blacken if left unattended.
2 Cook fresh peas in gently boiling, lightly salted water for 10–12 minutes, or until tender. If peas are frozen, put them in a sieve and rinse off ice crystals under running hot water. Boil gently for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Drain peas and refresh with cold water.
3 Wipe out pan. Add 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and chopped shallots to pan and cook gently until shallots are soft but not coloured. Return peas to pan and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Mash with a fork or potato masher to a lumpy purée. Mix in herbs.
4 Spread peas and herbs on toasted bread and arrange on a plate. Top with slivers of feta, grind on some black pepper, then drizzle with lemon-infused olive oil. Serve immediately.
Start with good bread – soft fluffy bread will be a let down as it will quickly become soggy once loaded with the topping. Choose bread with structure, such as sourdough, or ciabatta, providing it is not too holey. Don’t slice the bread too thickly, especially if eating in hand rather than with cutlery.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com
from Julie Biuso At Home
Published by New Holland Publishers (NZ)
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