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Pantry Basics

A Hint of Spring
March 17, 2011 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Four years ago this spring, my husband and I took a long awaited honeymoon to Venice. We hadn’t called it that officially, but with an almost three year old, we realized it was time for a kid-free getaway. Family graciously stepped in and our daughter was in good for care with her nana, uncles and aunts while we strolled the narrow, often confusing streets of one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Our last afternoon, spent in the Cannaregio district, the sun shone magnificently across one of the many infamous canals. We decided to stop into one of the wine bars and indulge in an afternoon glass of wine and some cicchetti, Italian bar snacks akin to tapas.

A few weeks ago, I was watching a television show that reminded me of that afternoon, specifically the cicchetti. Tapas bars are nothing new in NYC, but a cicchetti bar, now I’m ready to call the babysitter. The show featured Corsino in the village, and their signature spring crostini is adorned with a simple pea spread. It’s been stuck in my mind ever since, and while spring is only a few weeks away, fresh peas feel even further in the distance.

Luckily frozen peas play a very dignified and delicious role in my recreation. A simple mash with some freshly grated Parmesan, black pepper and olive oil, generously spread atop a toasted crisp of baguette is just the ray of sunshine I need to keep plodding along until warmer days and our next vacation arrive.

Pea & Parmesan Crostini
Makes 6 pieces

1 cup (4 ounces) frozen peas
3 tablespoons (14 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 basil leaf, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2-inch thick slices of baguette

  1. Preheat your Cuisinart Griddler, or use a grill pan set over medium heat.
  2. Combine the peas with 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes until peas are heated through (you can alternately do this in a small pot on the stove top). Drain peas and add them to a medium bowl. Mash peas with a fork until the skins pop. Stir in the olive oil, cheese, basil and pepper; set aside.
  3. Add the bread slices to your Cuisinart Griddler and press them into thin flat pieces of toast, or place them in the grill pan and toast lightly on both sides. Spread an event amount of the pea mixture on top of each warm slice of bread. Serve immediately.
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