Tuesday night we ate at Mario Batali's pizzeria, Otto. The not-so-secret secret to enjoying this place is to order a bunch of the sides and just munch. And so we did. Minty English peas and prosciutto, anchovies with breadcrumbs and scallions, and asparagus with Pecorino were favorites.
But what I was really taken with was the way they were served. Nothing genius, but a great entertaining tip.
What if, instead of a traditional salad or soup, you offered your guests a plate with three little bowls of vegetables to start a meal?
So last night I made my own simple versions of Batali's three little nibbles: the peas, the anchovies and the asparagus and served them in six-ounce bowls. That was dinner. Not exactly bursting with balance and nutrition, but darn good.
This is the kind of cooking that demands the freshest, highest quality ingredients you can find and afford. No matter how that plays out for you, if you sit down to a meal knowing you are serving the best you can buy, it will nourish you joyfully.
Here are the peas. Next week on the site I'll give you the recipes for the anchovies and the asparagus.
Peas with Prosciutto & Mint
makes 8 servings
2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen shelled peas 1 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt 6 mint leaves, sliced very thin (chiffonade) 1 ounce (about 2 thin slices) prosciutto
Prepare an ice bath and get out a strainer. Cook the peas in boiling, salted water for just a few seconds, then drain, plunge into ice bath and drain again.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper and salt. Toss the peas in the dressing. Add the ribbons of mint.
Tear the prosciutto roughly into little 1-inch wide squares. Gently toss prosciutto with peas. Scoop out 1/2 cup servings into small cups, ramekins or bowls between 4 and 8 ounces.
Other recipes from our archives that would serve nicely in little bowls: