At the farmers' market this week, I couldn't resist grabbing handfuls of pea shoots, wild with fresh young leaves and spiraling tendrils. Then my eyes, and nose, wandered over to the baskets of seascape strawberries, and I tucked those in my bag, too. Walking home, I started dreaming of ways to combine these two beautiful ingredients, and before I knew it, I was in the kitchen making these crostini.
Pea shoots, or tendrils, have a bright, sweet flavor suggestive of pea pods yet more delicate. Together with juicy strawberries and creamy, lemon-flecked ricotta on rounds of toasted baguette, the combination is a joyful bite of spring.
As with all simple, seasonal dishes like this, good ingredients are essential. I found my greens and berries at the McGrath Family Farm stand at the Hollywood Farmers' Market. Check with your local farmers, Asian grocery stores, or your garden for the pea shoots and if you can't find those, feel free to substitute baby arugula or watercress. Fresh ricotta may be homemade or store-bought.
A light sprinkle of salt and pepper tops the crostini. I especially like the effect of Murray River salt, with its flaky rose-colored crystals and sweet, almost fruity flavor. (Get it at The Meadow.) Another nice finishing salt like Maldon works, too.
Crostini with Pea Shoots and Strawberries
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
15 (1/3-inch) slices cut from a baguette
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pea shoots or tendrils
Flaky finishing salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, combine strawberries and Balsamic vinegar.
In a separate small bowl, combine ricotta and lemon zest.
Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake until toasted, about 10-12 minutes.
Spread each toast with ricotta and top with pea shoots and strawberries. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
(Images: Emily Ho)