Bruschetta with difference: beans, peas and a sprinkling of feta

Food nostalgia makes me long for bruschetta, but I seldom make it with tomatoes

Broad beans and peas on toast are a truly beautiful thing. Photograph: iStock

Broad beans and peas on toast are a truly beautiful thing. Photograph: iStock

 

Food nostalgia is an entangled thing, a complex meld of desire mixed with longing. We often yearn for food items that may never have existed in the first place, or that we may have reconfigured in our memories over time.

Bruschetta, that Italianate piece of toast, probably occupies that place in my mind. Often I long for it, not knowing precisely why. I’m sure it’s because Italian food has such a firm place in my childhood, but I can’t actually recall specifically eating one that rocked my world. Perhaps it was what bruschetta represented: warmth, difference, otherness. Three things our own food culture was sometimes short of fulfilling. Now, when I make bruschetta, it is seldom with tomatoes. Maybe I don’t want to break up my memories of those earlier days around a table where “no one grows old”.

Nowadays I turn, with feigned sophistication, to broad beans and peas to place upon my bruschetta. I know you may be thinking that this sounds slightly bizarre, but broad beans and peas on toast are a truly beautiful thing. You can even go a little further and crumble some feta on top (or St Tola feta-style if you’re locally inclined). 

How to make broad bean and pea bruschetta 

Making this fancy piece of toast is not as simple as spooning peas and beans over toasted sliced pan. You’ll need a nice cold-pressed rapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil. You also need a food processor, to blend the blanched peas and beans. And finally, you’ll need a nice acidity – lime juice works well – and some fresh herbs such as parsley or mint.

Before you blend everything, remember to peel the broad beans. This is crucial. Whiz the vegetables and herbs, and season to taste – that is, balance the fat, salt and acid.

Grill some slices of baguette or sourdough and drizzle the oil over the bread. If you like, rub a little garlic into the bread. Spoon some of the broad bean and pea mixture over the top and finish with a little crumbled cheese. As the elderflowers have another week or two, I’d top the lot with a few flowers. 

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