A lunch or light supper dish that's a favorite of cookbook author Deborah Madison.
To add a little heft but keep things meatless, cook a cup of small pasta shells in boiling salted water, then drain them and add to the peas.
- Olive oil
- 1 cup high-quality ricotta cheese, such as hand-dipped whole-milk ricotta
- 2 to 3 tablespoons plain fresh bread crumbs
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 2 large shallots or 1/2 small onion, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 5 small sage leaves, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 pounds peas in their pods, shucked (about 1 cup; may substitute 1 cup freshly shucked peas)
- 1/2 cup water
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for a grated garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a small baking dish with a little oil.
If the ricotta is wet and milky, drain it first by putting it in a colander and pressing out any excess liquid. Pack the ricotta into the baking dish and drizzle a little oil over the surface; bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cheese has begun to set and brown on top.
Cover the surface with the bread crumbs and bake for 10 minutes, until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp and the cheese has set. (The amount of time it takes for ricotta cheese to bake until set can vary tremendously, so it may well take longer than the times given here, especially if the cheese was not drained.)
When the cheese has set, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the shallots and sage and cook for about 3 minutes, until softened, then stir in the peas, water and lemon zest. Cook until the peas are bright green and tender; the time will vary, but it should take 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Season with salt and a little pepper.
Divide the ricotta between individual plates, then spoon the peas over the baked cheese. Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top. Serve warm.
Adapted from "Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, With Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes," by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, 2013).
Tested by Jim Webster.
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