With the warm Spring season filling the air we feel it’s time for light, fresh snacks to enjoy under that gorgeous sun. This crostini recipe celebrates the beautiful sweet broad beans and peas you’ll find fresh and vibrant at your local farmers markets. We smash them raw, retaining all their amazing colour and nutrition, brightening them up with fresh mint and lemon. The real star of the show though is the baked ricotta. In fact, baking your ricotta is a total waste hack! It’s the perfect way to extend its shelf life if you find yourself not knowing what to do with it as it nears it’s expiry date. Besides, it makes for a delicious accompaniment to so many dishes. Who knew you could transform your soft, sweet ricotta into such a powerhouse flavour!
First prepare the baked ricotta. Preheat your oven to 200°C and line a baking dish with baking paper. Spoon out 200g of Ricotta onto the baking dish, season with salt and drizzle over the olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until the ricotta is well browned and firm. Allow to cool.
Next, prepare the crostini. Cut each slice of sourdough into 3 or 4 smaller pieces, depending on how small you would like the serving size to be. Place them on a lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake at 200°C for 4-5 minutes until browned and crispy. When they come out of the oven, gently rub each piece with the half garlic clove to impart it's perfume to the crostini. Set aside.
Now prepare the broad bean pesto. Remove the beans from their pod (if using smaller, tender broad beans there's no need for double podding). Remove the peas from their pod (if using frozen peas you will just need to thaw them out by running under cold water and draining). To make the raw pesto we will be using a mortar and pestle, giving it an authentic rustic texture, however this can also be done in a food processor by just pulsing the mixture if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, just be mindful not to overblend the mixture into a fine paste as this is not the texture we are going for. First, smash up the half clove of garlic and leaves of fresh mint. Now add your podded broad beans and peas. Pound this together well, breaking it down, but keep it nice and coarse (the texture is great if left quite chunky!). Grate the Mastro in and pound a little more. Finish with the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Crumble in half of the baked ricotta, leaving the remaining half to scatter on top later. Mix it through gently with a spoon and taste. Go ahead and adjust the seasonings if needed (it should be super fresh tasting, savoury enough from the cheese, and brightly acidic from the lemon so don’t hesitate to squeeze a little more in if you feel it needs it!).
Time to plate up. Top each crostino with a spoon of the broad bean pesto and crumble over with the remaining baked ricotta. Finish with small sprigs of fresh mint, a good crack of black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy under the sun in the Spring garden, with a glass of crisp dry vino bianco.