We are all familiar with this scene: you’re invited to a party, and everyone has been asked to bring a dish to share. I look forward to a celebration as much as the next person, but choosing a crowd-pleasing dish can be daunting. I like to bring something unexpected, but also want to use familiar ingredients, and I like it to look like I slaved away in the kitchen all afternoon, when I actually only spent an hour or less. All these wishes come true with a delicious crostini. This version is built around a fresh-tasting and vibrantly green sweet pea purée. Peas are a great source of a variety of nutrients, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin A, as well as lutein, an antioxidant that keeps your eyes healthy.
An easily executed dish that has an endless variety of combinations, crostini also conveys a more personal touch than the token bowl of potato salad. If you are avoiding gluten or would like to keep things even easier in the kitchen, you can also deconstruct the crostini and serve its components separately. Simply combine the pea purée and herbs, and slice the cucumber into “chips” for dipping.
Sweet Pea and Cucumber Crostini with Fresh Herbs
1 whole-grain baguette, sliced diagonally into 1/4–inch pieces (will need 16 pieces)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 whole clove plus 2 minced cloves garlic, divided
2 shallots, diced
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh green peas (or thawed frozen peas)
1/3 cup diced English cucumber (about half a cucumber)
1 tablespoon minced dill
1 tablespoon minced mint
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the baguette pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, and brush both sides with the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season evenly with salt and pepper. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through to ensure even browning.
- When the baguette pieces are cool enough to handle, rub each with the whole garlic clove.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and salt, and sauté until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the minced garlic, and cook 2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the green peas and cook until just heated through.
- Place the green pea mixture in a food processor and purée until smooth.
- Assemble the crostini: spread each piece of baguette with 1 tablespoon of pea purée, top with 1 teaspoon diced cucumber, and sprinkle with a pinch of dill and mint.
- Crostini with Salad. Serve crostini alongside your favorite soup or salad to make it a meal.
- Fava Bean Crostini. Try fava beans in place of the peas, and top with pico de gallo and cilantro.
- Gluten-Free Sweet Pea and Cucumber Crostini with Fresh Herbs. Substitute rice crackers or gluten-free toast in place of the baguette.
There are hundreds of varieties of mint, but in the kitchen we are primarily dealing with two: spearmint and peppermint. Most stores simply sell “mint,” so it’s hard to know which one you’re getting! Peppermint varieties contain menthol, responsible for the cooling sensation on your tongue and often recommended for desserts. Spearmint varieties are mellower, and some say they are better suited for savory cooking. Either type will work just fine here!
Legumes such as peas and beans are a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, so they are very satiating and keep you feeling full for hours.
The benefits of peas don’t stop at the dinner table! They are also a terrific plant to grow in your garden, as they add nitrogen back into the soil.