Spring is such a long-anticipated and welcomed event, I do whatever I can to pause and take it all in. These delightful toasts, layered with the fresh flavors of the season, provide an opportunity to do just that.
To make them, whir cooked sweet peas with a brightening splash of lemon juice and zest in a food processor, along with olive oil, salt and pepper, to transform the vegetable into a gorgeous, green spread. (If you have access to just-picked fresh peas, go for those; otherwise get frozen ones, which are sure to be sweet and tender. Don’t bother with peas in the produce section if they seem to have been picked a while ago — those are likely to be more starchy than sweet.)
The velvety pea spread is generously slathered onto crusty whole-grain toast, then showered with more spring flavors: Sliced radishes for a peppery crunch and flashes of red, scallion for a mellow onion-y flavor, and a tickle of dill fronds. Creamy crumbles of feta cheese add a tangy, salty punch letting every bite sing.
The toasts make for a lovely light meal or, in smaller portions, an attractive appetizer — an expression of spring both on the plate and palate. If you are keeping a Sephardic Passover or have some left over from a Seder, the toppings also work beautifully layered over slabs of matzoh.
Sweet pea toasts with feta
2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest from ½ lemon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices crusty, textured whole grain bread, such as from a “health” loaf (½-inch thick slices, about 1¼ ounce each) or 4 pieces matzoh, halved
1 medium radish, halved and thinly sliced
1 scallion, green and white parts, thinly sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)
¼ cup fresh dill fronds
If using fresh peas, place them in a saucepan with ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and starchiness of the peas, until they are tender but still bright green. Drain the peas, then transfer them to an ice bath for a few minutes to stop the cooking and drain again. If using frozen peas, heat them in a pan over medium heat or in a bowl in the microwave until defrosted but still cool.
Transfer the peas to the small bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, the lemon juice, zest, salt and ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper. Pulse several times, until the mixture is spreadable, but retains some texture.
Toast the bread, then spread 2 heaping tablespoons of the pea mixture onto each piece of toast. Top each with a few radish slices, some scallion, feta cheese and dill. Drizzle each toast with ½ teaspoon of the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining black pepper.
Makes 4 servings (4 main-course servings or 8 snack-size servings). Nutrition per serving (based on 8): 180 calories, 6 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 380 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 4 grams sugar.