Peas and oregano; peas and shallots; shallots and cheese; soft cheese and lemon; lemon and oregano…for such a simple dish, this bruschetta draws its inspiration from several natural pairings that when combined together work really well. This hearty yet surprisingly delicate bruschetta would be a great first course for a springtime lunch or a delicious dinner for one. I like this with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio.
8 slices (about 1” thick) of ciabatta lunga or baguette cut on the diagonal
Olive oil to drizzle
1 cup cottage cheese
Zest of one lemon
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sweet peas, fresh or frozen, defrosted, and drained
¼ tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Prepare the bread:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the bread on a sheet pan (or on an oven-safe rack on a sheet pan). Drizzle the bread lightly with olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Bake for 5 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven. Set aside.
While the bread is baking, prepare the cheese and peas:
Mix the cottage cheese with the lemon zest and a pinch of black pepper. Set aside.
Heat a small skillet on low. Add the butter. Add the shallots and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until they are just translucent. Gently stir in the peas. Add the oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or just until the peas are warmed through; you don’t want to overcook them. Remove from the heat.
Assemble the bruschetta:
Divide the cottage cheese equally between the bread and spread it out evenly.
Top the cheese with an equal amount of peas and shallots.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
Don’t Freak Out!
1) If you’re using frozen peas, let them defrost in the refrigerator or for about 1/2 hour on the counter instead of in the microwave. Nuking them would destroy their sweetness and texture. Because you want the freshness of the peas to take center stage (which you can still get from a frozen product), I recommend not using canned peas; they’re too mushy, briny, and salty.
2) A member of the mint family, oregano can be a powerful herb so use sparingly; you want it to complement the peas but not overpower them. You can use fresh oregano here but I’d use no more than half a teaspoon. You can also substitute marjoram or another type of mint for the oregano.
3) I used small curd, full-fat cottage cheese for this because that is what I had in the refrigerator. I’ve made it with large curd or low fat cottage cheese and it was just as delicious. You can also use ricotta, cream cheese, or mascarpone instead; just remove these cheeses from the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, give them a good stir so they’re easily spreadable, stir in the lemon zest, and then spread them on the bread.
4) I love lemon juice but for this particular dish, I don’t recommend substituting lemon juice for the zest. The zest gives this dish a well-rounded lemony flavor while lemon juice would add an acidity that could easily take over the ingredients. But if you don’t have fresh lemon zest, try adding a dash of lemon pepper or granulated lemon peel to the cottage cheese instead.