Mind your “peas and cues. “
I’m taking a bit of liberty here but this personal twist of phrase curiously reflects my stance on peas.
In general, I’m not a huge fan of peas unless they’re freshly shelled and cautiously prepped to retain their bright pop of flavor and bite. No mushy peas for me. For the most part, peas just don’t often appear as a side dish in our home… there are just too many other veggies vying for my attention. And frozen peas? Well, let’s just say that they spend a good bit of time hanging out in the freezer. They're just not my bag.
This is where the “mind your peas and cues” comes in. My stance on frozen peas (and peas, in general) went right out the window when I tried a simple little salad by Ina Garten that pairs frozen peas (thawed out) with a good tangle of fresh spinach, a few generous dollops of basil pesto, and a little sprinkle of toasted pine nuts. That’s it. It’s crazy good and too easy to pull together to be considered such.
It was from this simple little flavor profile that I took my cue. This little bruschetta sandwich combines much of what that great salad offers and it pretty much takes the cake on flavor. It’s simply frozen peas combined with a good handful of fresh baby spinach, a large clove of garlic, a drizzle of fresh lemon juice, a few fresh basil leaves, a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts, a dash of kosher salt and pepper, and a little turn of extra virgin olive oil. A quick whirr in a food processor and… voilà… you get perfection. It’s truly so good you could eat it right out of the processing bowl.
But wait. Slathered over thick slices of fresh rustic bread crisped up to crunchy goodness in a hot oven, topped with thinly sliced rounds of ruby red tomato, and sprinkled with a few leaves of peppery arugula and the whole thing moves up a rung on the goodness ladder.
Then… being exceptionally mindful of these peas, lay a fried egg over top and move it all up another notch. So good.
Spring Pea-Pesto-Tomato Bruschetta Sandwich with Fried Egg & Arugula
Makes 4 bruschetta toasts
1 cup frozen peas
2 large cloves garlic, divided
10 large fresh basil leaves
1 ounce fresh baby spinach leaves (about one generous handful)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
4 slices fresh rustic bread (large french loaf or boule, for example), sliced 1" thick on the diagonal
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
14 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 thin slices of red tomato
2 ounces of fresh arugula, to top bruschetta
4 fried eggs, cooked as preferred
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place peas, 1 clove garlic (quartered), basil leaves, spinach and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, until peas have thawed.
Meanwhile, lightly brush bread slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cut remaining clove of garlic in half and rub bread with cut sides of garlic to infuse with a subtle touch of flavor. Place bread on a sheet pan and pop in oven to bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, until just golden and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside.
Once peas have thawed, pulse pea mixture in food processor until fully chopped. While pulsing, drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice. Continue to pulse until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of pea mixture, as desired, on each bread toast. Top each with 2 slices of tomato and a sprinkle of arugula. Then top each with a fried egg, as preferred.