Pea Ricotta Spread

Pea Ricotta Spread

You know you’re a foodie when you drive on a wet highway and all of a sudden you feel the car “microplaning”.

~Pim

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.”

Ouch.

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?

Pea Ricotta Spread

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

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F/ 220C.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Ranunculus

 

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Megan Gordon - Well I have to say, I’m not too sure spring has sprung yet in seattle. We still have a lot of root veggies going on at the market, but I loved this post. Sometimes certain lines from books/even the newspaper strike me — other times, like last night, I make a pretty perfect cake and the science behind the whole thing kind of blows me away. Geekiness confirmed. Miss you!

Danielle - Geekiness rules!

As much as our weather here is lovely, I have to confess that I wouldn’t mind if the clouds and rain stayed a little longer. Sending some of our sunshine up North!

Jacqui - Haha, your 32 year old self sounds exactly like my 27 year old self! I’m totally in bed early, up early, NPR radio listener, food/seasonal produce geek to the core, yoga, camera obsessed! And now I’m geeking out over this spread : ) Sounds amazing!

Nicole Franzen - This is right up my alley, smothered all over a piece of bread. Nom

Shannon | JustAsDelish - I’m your new fan, love your recipe and your photos!
So true how we evolved in different stages of our life.
As a new food blogger, I constantly geek about ingredients, new recipe experiments, food cultures.. until my family & friends go crazy.. haha. Recently bought my 1st DSLR had me geeking photographs and lenses!

thelittleloaf - Love this kind of simple spread – perfect on homemade sourdough, yum!

Chez Us - I am so glad you posted this recipe as it was amazing! We are all about garlic over here so 5 may not be enough. ;)

Stephanie - In French there is no word for geek or nerd; reading or thinking deeply about a subject is considered normal or good, not something to be dishonored!

Kasey - A lovely welcome for spring, Danielle! I’m all about embracing my geek-dom. When it comes to chatting about food with Matt, I’d go so far as to say his geek-dom for music surpasses mine for food. I think the older you get, the more you love it :) xo

EmmaC - Let your geek flag fly, my friend!

David - After an unseasonably sunny week at the end of March in Dublin, April has started with snow and hailstones. All I can do for the moment is look at these gorgeous photos and dream of Spring.

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Vegetable of the month … peas - [...] can’t help but be intrigued by Beyond [the Plate]’s pea and ricotta spread. Blogger Danielle’s recipe combines creamy ricotta and sweet peas with [...]

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