July 06, 2012

Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini

Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini

Don't you hate when a book (or cookbook) you've heard great things about and decide to shell out the money for ends up being a disappointment?  I don't often purchase books to own because I'm always worried I'll waste my money on something I don't like.  Instead, I usually borrow books or end up taking risks picking up books in clearance sections, figuring that if I don't end up loving them, it won't be such a big disappointment.  Sometimes, these books are in the clearance section for a reason, but other times the risk pays off with a big reward, as was the case when I picked up The Modern Vegetarian.  It's a vegetarian cookbook that has some of the most unique and creative recipes I've ever seen, like watermelon curry with black beans and paneer, or lemongrass, ginger, and lime leaf chocolate tart.  It's definitely a great example of how vegetarian food doesn't have to be boring!

I started off with one of the easier recipes in the book, this smashed pea, dill, and feta crostini, because fresh peas are in season in Ontario right now (June-July), and I'd been wanting to make a pea crostini for a while!

Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini

This turned out wonderfully.  Fresh sweet green peas are combined with tangy lemon and dill and salty feta on a piece of toasted bread for a light and fresh summer appetizer that's bursting with bright flavour. 

The original recipe didn't call for cooking the peas first, but if you've ever tried to smash a fresh pea, it's not easy!  Every time I pinned a little pea under my pestle and tried to press down, it would invariably end up escaping and flying across the kitchen.  So I decided to give the peas a quick blanch followed by a dunk in ice water so they'd maintain their bright green colour, and this made them much easier to smash! (sorry little peas, you can't escape me!)   I also left out the parmesan from the recipe because I didn't want to overwhelm the peas' flavour too much, and made a few minor adjustments to some of the ingredient amounts.

Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini

This would make a great elegant appetizer to impress guests, even though it's so easy to make.  Or you could just eat it all yourself for lunch like I did! 

With the weekend coming up, and with peas in season (at least where I live), this is a perfect snack to eat while sitting outside on the patio - if you can handle the crazy heat outside!  I'm loving the hot weather but hoping the suffocating humidity tones itself down a bit for the weekend!

 Hope you all have a great weekend :)

Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini

Smashed Pea, Dill, and Feta Crostini

Adapted from The Modern Vegetarian cookbook

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer


1 ciabatta baguette, sliced into thin (~1/2 inch) pieces (you probably won’t use the whole loaf)
5 oz fresh shelled green peas (around 3/4 cup peas, from around 40 pea pods)
1 small garlic clove
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
Sea salt
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Brush ciabatta slices with olive oil or spray with cooking spray, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 5-10 minutes until toasted.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and blanch peas for 2-3 minutes.  Drain into a colander or sieve, then place the colander/sieve in a large bowl of ice water to immediately stop the cooking.

Place garlic, dill, and a pinch of salt in a mortar and smash with a pestle until crushed.  Transfer to a small bowl.

Add peas to mortar in a few batches (depending how big your mortar is), adding a small pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil to each batch and smashing with a pestle.

Transfer smashed peas to a medium bowl and add the dill-garlic mixture, feta, and lemon juice.  Mix with a fork and season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Top ciabatta slices with the smashed pea mixture and serve.


  1. This dish had so many bold and fresh flavours that all worked really well together! I especially liked the dill. A great appetizer for summer!

  2. Peas, eh? Sounds like a lovely idea. I'd substitute the feta for something vegan-friendly, but this recipe has inspired me.

    ♥ It's Carmen

  3. Usually when I buy those bargain books I end up never using them because there was a reason they were marked down to $4.99...but obviously I need to get my hands on The Modern Vegetarian! These crostini sound DEEElicious!

  4. Watermelon curry?! That is crazy. You're going to have to make that one next. :) I used to think I hated peas, but then I realized that what I hate is cooked peas--I love them raw! But I bet blanching them is just about the same flavor-wise...

  5. I've never tried a vegan cheese before but I'm sure it would still taste great!

  6. I think you'd really like the book .. although it doesn't seem to be on sale anywhere else other than the store I bought it at!

  7. I still thought the peas maintained their flavour, but you could try smashing them raw if you're more patient than I am!


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