We did something different this past long weekend. We stayed in town rather than joining the mass exodus out of the city, and celebrated Simcoe Day with a few friends in the back yard on Saturday night. And what fun was had! All I need to say is that Ontario peaches were a-flambee at 1am…
We decided to focus on local food for the menu so we visited a great farmers’ market near by on Saturday morning. We stocked up on gorgeous seasonal stuff from the area: corn on the cob, potatoes, onions, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, peas, tomatoes, and pork ribs. And thus the cooking began…
After the long hard winter and short spring, I really appreciate even more what a pleasure it is to live in an area that delivers such amazing produce. As they say, “Good Things Grow in Ontario…”
Our dinner guests did not know the “locavore theme” but obviously were aligned as everyone brought different Ontario wines to sample…
In addition to bruschetta made from local tomatoes, I also wanted to create an appetizer that used our fresh peas to their advantage. Here’s my recipe for Crostini with Pea Pesto & Prosciutto:
Pea Pesto & Prosciutto Crostini (for about 20 crostini)
1. Set your oven on low broil. Slice a whole wheat baguette into 1 inch thick slices on an angle. Cover the surface of a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the bread slices on the sheet. Spray/brush with olive oil and put under the broiler. After one side is brown (usually about 5 minutes but watch closely as they move from slightly brown to burnt quickly!), remove and turn over. Spray/brush other side with olive oil and put under broiler for another 5 minutes (again – watch closely!). When browned on both sides, remove from oven and set aside.
2. Start about 3 cups of water boiling in a big pot while you shell about 1 kg of fresh peas. Optional: I add sprigs of mint to the water as it starts to boil as mint & peas just seem to go together.
3. Add the shelled peas to the boiling water and watch closely. Remove from heat as soon as the peas are cooked. Drain immediately & rinse with cold water. Optional: reserve the mint leaves to add to the puree if you wish.
4. Set aside a few choice peas as garnish.
5. Toast a generous handful of pine nuts in your toaster oven or in a small pan. Make sure they do not burn.
6. Using a food processor, puree peas along with toasted pine nuts, a splash of olive oil, some plain yogurt and/or mayonnaise (depending on your taste) and salt & pepper to taste. You may need to play with these ingredients to get the consistency you want. Optional: add the mint leaves.
7. Generously spread the pesto on crostini and add thin slices of prosciutto. Garnish with reserved peas.
What a wonderful way to start a meal!