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Now that the ice and howling wind is giving way to warm breezes and crocuses peeping out of the ground, it’s time to get serious about spring flavor. So long, comforting winter stews and roasts. Hello, vibrant and fresh everything!
Some time ago, I discovered an exceptionally delicious flavor combination that The Barefoot Contessa seems to use a lot in the spring. She combined spring peas, herby pesto, and pine nuts all together into a beautiful and delicious salad that hit all the high notes of the flavors of the season. That’s what gave me this idea. It’s a good one!
For this Spring Pea, Pesto & Ricotta Dip, use the herbs you have on hand. If you live in certain climates, you already have all of the herbs popping their heads up from your herb garden. Basil, chives, parsley, mint, you name it. I think a combination of any of these would be excellent to pair with the light and fresh ricotta and the crusty toast points.
To keep this low-calorie and lower-point, I chose to not use any nuts that are traditionally in pesto, I kept the parmesan to a minimum, and I used low-fat ricotta.
When I made this last, it was intended to just be an appetizer and it became the main event. It’s delicious enough to stand on its own and there’s certainly not a better recipe for kicking off Spring!
Here’s how to make it.Print
1 cup thawed frozen peas
1 cup garden herbs, plus more for garnish (I used a mix of chives, mint, and parsley, but basil would be excellent too!)
1/4 cup chopped Parmesan
1 garlic clove
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for garnish drizzle
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound low fat ricotta
Flaky sea salt like Maldon, for garnish
Toasted bread, for serving (I went above and beyond here and made the super easy and super delicious no-knead dutch oven bread from Girl Versus Dough and then sliced it and toasted it with olive oil). Pita chips or even crudité would be an excellent option as well.
In a food processor, blend together the peas, herbs, Parmesan cheese and garlic clove. Purée until almost smooth (a little texture is a good thing here!). With the processor on, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify and process until you have a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper.
Add a pillow-like cloud of ricotta in the middle of a pretty serving bowl. Add the pesto on top. To finish, gracefully swirl the pesto into the ricotta and garnish with herbs, pepper and flaky sea salt, then serve with toasted bread, pita or crudité.
Keywords: pea, ricotta, healthy spring recipes, appetizer ideas