This pea pesto crostini recipe is dear to my heart as it was taught in my first ever You say Tomato class. Since then it has become a regular in my students’ houses. They love it like I do because it is colourful, healthy, child and budget friendly. Most importantly, because it is mainly make-ahead (even make a day ahead) you can focus on glamming yourself up for the party rather than sweating over the stove. Sold?
Be sure to make extra of the pea mixture so that you have some to stir through pasta or slather on bread with bacon the day after the party, when you can’t face any more cooking. I often make this for dinner for my boys alongside soup as a way to get a few more greens into their tums.
I defrost my peas by leaving them in a bowl in the kitchen for a few hours. There is no need to do anything more labour intensive. If you forget to defrost them, just pop them in the microwave until they are barely defrosted and still cool.
Active prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10 mins
Loaf of Ciabatta, sliced half an inch thick, ideally a day old (If you buy your bread from a shop with a baker counter, ask them to do this for you in their machine – you’ll get even slices and less crumbs at home)
285g (10oz) frozen peas, defrosted
1 garlic clove
A splash of white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
half a teaspoon Maldon sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper
50g or half a cup freshly grated Parmesan (plus extra to shave over at the end)
3 tablespoons good olive oil – something you’d use for a salad dressing
Optional – add a handful of basil along with the peas
To top the finished crostini:
- Pine nuts, toasted
- Shaved Parmesan – I use my vegetable peeler to get strips like in the photo
- Hot smoked salmon flakes
- Crisply cooked prosciutto or pancetta
- Pea shoots
- Pulse the peeled garlic briefly in a food processor
- Add the defrosted peas, olive oil, grated Parmesan,vinegar, salt and pepper to the food processor along with basil, if using. Blend until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. You’ll need to stop a couple of times and scrape around the side of the bowl with a silicone spatula
- Taste and adjust the acid (vinegar), salt and pepper. Spend a few moments doing this as it really makes a difference. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside or cover with a lid and store in refrigerator for up to 4 days. If refrigerating, allow the pesto to come to room temperature before serving.
- Start to make the crostini by heating the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Cut ciabatta bread into 1/2in slices (or take your pre-cut slices out of the bag) and arrange the slices onto a cookie sheet/baking tin
- Just before serving, toast the bread in oven for approximately 10 minutes, until it is golden brown and crispy. You could of course grill your bread under the grill (broiler) but, if you’re like me you will dash off to deal with something and come back to a kitchen full of smoke and guests knocking at the door. So stick with the more-forgiving oven method.
- Top the toasted bread with pea pesto and your choice of toppings and serve immediately. Baked, un-topped crostini will keep for a few days in an airtight tin, refresh for 5 minutes in a hot oven before using.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.
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