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“Two little words. So much joy. I sometimes think on toast might be the best two words in the world,” writes Nigel Slater in his “Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter.”

Slater goes on to outline his ideas about what makes great toast — “a thick wodge of golden bread under a pool of melted cheese” and “naan as a soft cushion” — and, spoiler alert: “There are no rules really. The toast should be thick enough to support whatever we put on top of it and it should be hot and freshly made. Other than that, we are surely free to mix and match toasts and toppings at will.”

After meditating on Slater’s poetic way with toast, I let myself daydream. I recalled the slices of toast that chef Missy Robbins serves, with blistered peppers, at her Brooklyn restaurant, Lilia. They are stubby things, thick with a piped squiggle of whipped ricotta. Presented as an appetizer, they look more like hunks of cake with a ribbon of frosting.

Inspired by Robbins’ simple trick and Slater’s encouraging words, here’s an idea for dinner tonight: Whipped Ricotta Toasts With Green Garlic, Peas and Prosciutto.

Robbins’ ricotta is special not because it’s piped into curlicues, but because it’s rich, full-fat, good-quality stuff. And, though you could just spoon it out of the container and onto warm toast, giving it a good whirl in a food processor turns into something so much more luxurious.

I’ve added lemon zest, honey and chile oil to give the cheese’s flavors dimension, but the key is really its texture: silky and cloudlike. Once on the toast, it becomes a pillow upon which I think you should place lightly charred green garlic or scallions, just-warm peas, and bits of prosciutto or smoked ham. The prosciutto is optional, of course, and you could easily think of this recipe as a platform on which to play. That’s the thing about toast, right? As Slater says, “A slice of toast has the ability to make anything more substantial.”

No ricotta? Goat cheese, thinned out with some yogurt, would work, too. Mascarpone right out of the tub would be extra luxe. There’s nothing wrong with a swipe of cream cheese, either.

As for toppings, let your imagination wander — or rummage through your crisper drawer: A red bell pepper roasted with cumin-scented carrots? Leaves of cabbage or radicchio, grilled, marinated in a balsamic dressing and garnished with toasted walnuts? Slowly roasted onions and sweet potatoes, plus leaves of fresh thyme? Cherry tomatoes chopped and marinated with basil and black pepper? Thinly sliced radishes and fennel, with torn mint leaves?

You could, if you were in the mood, even serve ricotta toast for dessert: Rub the toast with fruity olive oil, top it with the whipped ricotta and then pile on pitted cherries or raspberries or slices of peaches, a thick drizzle of honey, a pinch of flaky salt and maybe some torn tarragon, if you’ve got some growing in the garden.


Ingredients

  • 4 thick slices crusty bread, each about as large as your hand
  • 1 cup (about 8 ounces) whole milk ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon), divided
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 stalks green garlic or scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 ounces frozen peas
  • 4 to 8 slices prosciutto (about 2 to 4 ounces, optional)

Step 1

In a toaster or toaster oven, toast the bread.


Step 2

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the ricotta, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, honey, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning as desired.


Step 3

In a medium skillet over high heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the green garlic or scallions and cook, using tongs to toss occasionally, until the stalks start to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the vegetable onto a plate.


Step 4

Return the skillet to high heat and add the water, followed by the frozen peas and another pinch of salt. Simmer until the peas turn bright green and the water evaporates, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with the remaining lemon zest.


Step 5

To assemble the toasts, use a spoon to divide the ricotta among the bread slices, spreading it into an even layer. Top with the peas, scallions and more black pepper and chile flakes, if desired. Serve topped with bits of prosciutto or with the prosciutto on the side, if desired.


Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 toast), based on 4

Calories: 370; Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 30 mg; Sodium: 211 mg; Carbohydrates: 35 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 11 g; Protein: 12 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Alexis Sargent; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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