Monday, May 21, 2012

Crostini with Balsamic Strawberries, Ricotta & Pea Shoots

In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.  ~ Margaret Atwood

Today is Victoria Day in Canada, or the unofficial start to Summer.  Many of us climb into campers and cars and head out of the city to cabins or cottages or tents.  The "May Two-Four" weekend also brings back faded memories of binge drinking as a teenager, all those many moons ago.  These days I'm most happy sipping a nice juicy red on my patio, with no need to go barfing into the bushes, with my feet up, listening to bird songs.  Oh the perks of being a grown up!  I don't have a cabin or cottage or tent to go to, so I'm always home this weekend, hitting up garden centres and greenhouses and plotting and planning my growing season.  The hands are dirty and the heart is happy. 

My garden won't be yielding anything for a few weeks, but thankfully the local farmer's market has some good loot of late.  I snapped up some lovely pea shoots from Wally, and knew exactly what fun stuff I was going to do with them.  Their mild fresh pea flavour means they can go in salads, and quickly sauteed they are quite lovely too.  But I had grander plans.  Like killer crostini plans. 

Crostini are nothing more that toasted baguette slices, slathered with your favourite toppings.  Because the flavours here are simple, it's important to use top quality stuff, like local strawberries, if you have them.  There aren't any available here yet, so I used organic.  Tossed in balsamic vinegar - it's a perfect marriage.  The baguette is from an amazing local bakery and the aforementioned pea shoots came from Wally, a super cool dude who grows great stuff in the city.  My only wish is that I would have made my own ricotta, and one of these days I will.  But hey, there are only so many things to do in the hours allotted each day - the cheese will have to wait!  Assembly is pretty straightforward - brush baguette with a little olive oil and lightly toast until golden.  Slather each piece with ricotta, combined with lemon zest for brightness.  Slide on a few pea shoots - they look so pretty and taste so good! - then top with your balsamic strawberries.  Give a grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.  Arrange on a platter as an uncomplicated appetizer.  Or you can enjoy them for a late breakfast, like I did today. 

I ate these crostini sitting outside in the mid morning sun, sipping my favourite green tea.  As I crunched though the layers of sweet and savoury creamy goodness, I gazed at my yard, amazed and how lush it looks, and how the perennials are filling in the beds already.  The grass was warm underfoot and the birds were singing and my orange cat was pouncing on bugs, both real and imagined, I'm sure.  The air smelled like apple blossoms and the low hum of a neighbour's lawn mower wasn't even annoying me.  These days of late Spring are busy, but I'm filled with anticipation of what lies ahead.  

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. ~ Audrey Hepburn

Crostini with Balsamic Strawberries, Ricotta & Pea Shoots

15 baguette slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
grated zest of 1 lemon
pea shoots
sea salt
black pepper

Arrange baguette slices on bake sheet.  Brush with olive oil.  Place in a preheated 350*F oven.  Bake until golden, about 7 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool. 
Combine strawberries with balsamic vinegar and set aside.  In a small bowl combine ricotta and lemon zest. Spread ricotta mixture on baguette slices.  Top with pea shoots then strawberries.  Adapted from The Kitchn


  1. Peas, and their darling shoots, are the ingredient of the week at la Domestique! I love what you've done here with the strawberry-ricotta-pea shoot crostini and would happily munch on them with a nice glass of bubbles!

  2. Beautiful! Over here in new construction-ville, I listen to a pressure washer working overtime, a gravel tamper, a Bobcat's back up alarm, and more. A lawn mower would have been positively musical. Jealous of your finished yard!! Enjoy.

  3. just a quick note - floating gardens, one of the greenhouses selling at the farmers' market - does have local strawberries. you do have to be at market early, though!
    they are beautiful berries - very flavorsome!

  4. Pea shoots are darling - can't wait to see what you do with them Jess! Tracy, if you need a break from the noise, come on over :) Thanks for the tip Molly - I'll be sure to look for the berries next time I'm at the market!

  5. so pretty! i can't wait till my strawberries start turning red to try this!

  6. If you like balsamic and strawberries, and if you like chocolate, you must try dark chocolate balsamic and strawberries! My new favorite.

  7. This is so gorgeous... what a fresh idea, I can't wait to try!

  8. oh i can't wait till next month when I can go strawberry picking to make looks and sounds perfect! And i simply love the third photo.

  9. Thanks everyone - I can't wait to go strawberry picking too. I can smell them already :)

  10. Those look amazing! What would you suggest if one can't find pea shoots?

  11. Hi Laura! You could use baby spinach or baby arugula or even watercress as a substitute for the pea shoots. I have spotted pea shoots at the Safeway in Saskatoon - check near the boxed spring mix - so they aren't only available at farmer's markets :)

  12. The lovely green pea shoots and pretty red strawberries are such a lovely color combo! Have a lovely May Two-four- we'll be celebrating Memorial Day here in the states. It's a little late in the year here already to do any planting but I have some gardening projects on tap, too. Those weeds won't pick themselves!

  13. These photos are insane! I could stare at this beauty all day. Wonderful post.

  14. These look so unique and tasty! Love it!


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