You know you’re a foodie when you drive on a wet highway and all of a sudden you feel the car “microplaning”.
I read this on Facebook last week while the Bay Area was soaked in much-needed rain, and it tickled me so much that I had to share it with M on our way to dinner. After politely letting me giggle it out, he looked at me pityingly and said, “Sorry honey, but that’s SO GEEKY.”
After recovering from the sting of the failed joke, I got to thinking about his remark and our attitudes towards geekiness in general. Why do we react sheepishly, even apologetically, when someone says that we’re a geek? Shouldn’t it be a compliment, a reflection of the work you’ve invested into something that you’re passionate about?
In the past few years I have slowly but surely entered the hallways of geekdom, as viewed through the lens of the 28-year-old self who arrived in California four Novembers ago. A look at my wishlist these days and you’d be convinced that it was curated by two different people – one, a photography and gadget junkie with a love for lens filters, toy cameras and RAID drives, and the other, a yoga-obsessed, Lululemon-wearing, Sanskrit-spouting, 32 year old. I’m in bed by 10, and wake at 6. I read long, “wordy” pieces in The New Yorker and The Rumpus and don’t have a television. I choose NPR over pop music when driving, and like nothing better than listening to Terry Gross or Ira Glass on long drives.
I have clearly become the convergence of geekiness as it relates to yoga, photography and writing, and I haven’t even talked about food yet. Waxing lyrical about kale, strawberries and cauliflower nowadays earns you a spot in the universe of other food-obsessed souls on Twitter, where one can rhapsodize about any and everything on one’s plate, 24/7.
With or without Twitter, you’d still catch me geeking out over fresh produce at the market every Sunday. And why not, when lush, bright red strawberries start appearing on market stands in March, alongside the most cherubic baby artichokes and asparagus stems at the pinnacle of flavor? Who wouldn’t feel the stirrings of excitement when the waves of spring green start flooding the market, a shock of the senses, after the subdued tones of winter? Now that Spring is well and truly upon us, I invite you to geek out with me, proudly, on all it has to offer, starting with this spread, bursting with the sweet essence of peas mingled with hints of mint. And tell me, what do you like to geek out about?
Pea Ricotta Spread
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer
Roasted garlic adds an earthy, aromatic kick to what would otherwise be a mild and sweet appetizer. You’ll need at least five cloves, so reserve the excess roasted cloves for other uses. If you’re a garlic-lover like me though, add the whole lot and enjoy. If you find that five cloves is still way too much, add more ricotta to mask the flavor. You can make this a day in advance and kept refigerated, allow to come to room temperature before serving.
- 1 medium head of garlic, about 2 ounces/ 50 grams
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 8 ounces/ 225 grams organic peas, fresh or frozen
- 5 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 ounces/ 100 grams fresh ricotta
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked and torn
- Preheat the oven to 425F/ 220C.
- Drizzle the garlic with a teaspoon of olive oil, then wrap tightly in foil and roast for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the flesh of 5 to 6 cloves into the bowl of a food processor.
- Prepare an ice bath. Combine the water and salt into a heavy pot and bring to a rolling boil, add the peas for 1 minute, remove, drain and immediately plunge the peas into the ice bath for about 5 minutes to stop the cooking process.
- Measure out about 2 ounces (56 grams) of the peas into a separate bowl, then place the rest of the peas into the food processor, together with the cloves of roasted garlic.
- Process the peas and garlic first, then add the ricotta, lemon juice and olive oil. Puree until you get a smooth paste of spreadable consistency. If your paste is too thick and clumpy, add more oil by the teaspoon until it’s smooth enough for your preference.
- Taste and correct for salt and lemon juice, if needed. I find that a generous squeeze of lemon juice helps to really bring out the sweetness of the peas.
- Before serving, stir in the rest of the peas, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with mint leaves. Serve at room temperature with a side of grilled bread.