I created these tiny tartines as a different take on the average tea sandwich, but they would be lovely as pretty spring hors d’oeuvres. You could also use a good slice of sourdough or other hearty bread and make a larger portioned version (like a typical French tartine) for a midday luncheon served with a fresh, bright salad. My recipe sounds a bit complicated below, only because I wanted to show how to create the curls and pretty styling of the toasts, but you can definitely simplify and just smear the ricotta on and top with pretty blanched or roasted asparagus, peas and a quick grate of lemon zest. To save time, cook your vegetables and mix your ricotta the morning of your party Assemble just before serving. Always sprinkle at the end with some good, course sea salt – and remember, for simple recipes like this, use the best ingredients you can find and it will taste like springtime perfection.
SPRING ASPARAGUS + ENGLISH PEA TARTINES WITH LEMON + MINT RICOTTA
Makes about 12 little toasts | Recipe by Laura Boyd of Strawberry Banke Studio
- 4-5 slices good white bread
- ½ cup whole milk ricotta
- ¼ cup fresh English spring peas
- 1 bunch asparagus (dead ends removed)
- 1 lemon (zested)
- 1 bunch of mint (separate the smallest leaves and “crowns” into a small bowl)
- Medium bowl of ice water
- Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a medium pot of boiling water.
- Remove the crusts from the bread slices and slice into 3 even, long “fingers” (about 1” wide by 2-3” long). Repeat with all of the bread slices until you have 12 identical looking fingers.
- Arrange bread fingers on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees until just golden (do not over crisp (you want them to be golden and toasted enough to hold the ricotta without getting soggy).
- While the bread is toasting, make the lemon ricotta. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta with a teaspoon or so of lemon zest and a tiny pinch of salt. Taste, and add more seasoning and/or zest to taste. If you prefer more lemon flavor, ad a teaspoon of lemon juice as well. Mix well and return to fridge.
- Once the water is boiling, add the asparagus and blanch (boil quickly) for about 30-40 seconds until asparagus is just tender. Remove swiftly and transfer to bowl of ice water (make sure there is plenty of ice to stop cooking quickly. This will cook the asparagus just enough and preserve the beautiful bright green color. Next, throw a handful of peas into the water for a flash (about 10 seconds). Transfer to ice water.
- Once asparagus and peas are fully chilled, drain water and transfer them to a clean tea towel to dry. Remove the heads of the asparagus and set aside.
- If you want to get a little fancy, use a vegetable peeler to peel the stalks of the asparagus length-wise. Take each peeled piece and wrap around the end of your index finger to create a curl. Set curls aside until you are ready to assemble toasts.
- TO ASSEMBLE: Take a cooled toast and spread neatly with ricotta. Top with a head or two of asparagus, a few asparagus curls and some little peas to create a pretty arrangement on top. Finish by tucking in a few little mint leaves for garnish. Grate some lemon zest over the top and sprinkle with a little finishing salt. Serve immediately.
Photo by Julie Livingston Photography