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Everyday Entertaining: Toast inspires a simple appetizer with ricotta and prosciutto

Indulge in Minty Pea and Ricotta Toast With Crisp Prosciutto.

ILEANA MORALES VALENTINE | Special to the Times

Indulge in Minty Pea and Ricotta Toast With Crisp Prosciutto.

Looking back, I have been entertaining with toast longer than I had initially remembered.

One younger cousin's favorite breakfast when staying at our house was cinnamon-sugar toast reminiscent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. I'd pop a slice of sandwich bread in the toaster oven and, after it was lightly toasted, spread butter on it and sprinkle the buttered toast with sugar and cinnamon. It was a simple, alternative breakfast for a generation of cereal eaters.

Since then, I've embraced different versions of fancified toast.

In the summer of 2010, I encountered my first tartine as a fresh college graduate and intern. It made sense to me as an open-faced sandwich, one that somehow felt fancier for lunch with just the one slice of bread. I've served up a quick round of classic bruschetta several times, including a Venetian version with roasted grapes, walnuts and goat cheese. The Los Angeles restaurant Sqirl is well known for its thickly sliced brioche with ricotta smeared past the edges of the toast, cradling an oval of red jam. And then there's avocado toast, as undeniably satisfying as it is ubiquitous — more meal than party snack.

There are endless ways to dress up toast, but one of my favorites is a recipe for Minty Pea and Ricotta Toast With Crisp Prosciutto. It's a bright, hearty appetizer. Peas, always a marker of springtime, are readily available, fresh or frozen, throughout the year. These little toasts are great to serve before a dinner party or just with drinks and a few friends. They're satisfying without being too filling.

I love this toast in part for its visual drama, with verdant peas polka-dotting a lush landscape of whipped ricotta on bread toasted in olive oil. (Bread browned in olive oil tastes much more luxurious than dry toasted bread; plus, there's no room on my counter for a dedicated toaster.)

Contrasting with the textured leaves of fresh mint are what takes this toast over the top: shards of crisp, blush-colored prosciutto. It's really pretty against all the green, and adds texture to the mix of soft ricotta and snappy peas. Honey whipped into the ricotta plays off the gentle sweetness of the peas, and flecks of lemon zest add fresh, bright flavor.

The flavor profile of this toast is more grownup, but like my old reliable cinnamon-sugar toast, it's a keeper.

Contact Ileana Morales Valentine at ileanamvalentine@gmail.com.

A fresh, beautiful snack of toast that's great with a crisp white wine. The prosciutto adds texture, flavor and flair, but skipping the ham makes these vegetarian if needed.

easy

Minty Pea and Ricotta Toast With Crisp Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) fresh or frozen peas, shelled
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk ricotta
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 baguette or small ciabatta loaf, sliced diagonally in
  • 1-inch-thick slices
  • 4 or 5 slices prosciutto
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Blanch peas in boiling water for 90 seconds. Drain and plunge into a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process and maintain the bright green color of the peas. Drain peas again, transfer to a bowl and toss immediately with butter and sea salt. Chop or tear mint leaves and toss with peas. (You can also steam the peas in the microwave for a couple of minutes if you prefer.)
  2. Use a spatula to whip ricotta in a small bowl. Add lemon zest and honey and mix until incorporated and fluffy. (This can be mixed up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange bread slices in skillet and fry until golden brown and toasted, a few minutes on each side. Let toasted bread slices cool on a cutting board before loading up with ricotta and peas.
  4. To make prosciutto crisps, lay slices flat in skillet over medium heat. (You can use the same skillet used to toast the bread. Just wipe off the residual oil with a paper towel.) Cook prosciutto until it starts to wrinkle and curl up at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for another couple of minutes as the prosciutto slices shrink and crisp up. When the prosciutto is cool enough to handle, tear it into small pieces.
  5. Spread whipped ricotta onto a slice of toasted bread. Top with minty pea mixture, pressing the peas in slightly so they stay in place in the cheese. Season with flaky salt and pepper. Tuck a few shards of crisp prosciutto into the top of ricotta. Repeat layering on toast with the rest of the ingredients and serve. Serves about 16.
Source: Ileana Morales Valentine

Everyday Entertaining: Toast inspires a simple appetizer with ricotta and prosciutto 01/31/17 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2017 4:28pm]
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