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CULINARY SOS

Once again, a fresh start

August 27, 2003|Cindy Dorn | Times Staff Writer

Dear SOS: Recently I was in New York. We ate at Mario Batali's newest restaurant, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, where we had a wonderful appetizer that appeared to be composed of pureed peas and mint. I am desperate for the recipe.

Leslie Hoyer

Los Angeles

Dear Leslie: This dish, created by executive chefs Zach Allen and John Baro, has been on the menu at Otto Enoteca since peas began appearing in farmers markets this spring and can be enjoyed through fall, our second-wave fresh-pea season.

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Fresh pea bruschetta

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 6 to 8

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, divided

3 cups shelled fresh peas

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (2-ounce) piece of pancetta, sliced into thin strips

6-8 large slices of rustic Italian bread, grilled or toasted on both sides

10 leaves fresh mint, thinly sliced

1 pinch dried red chile flakes

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the diced onion. Mince 1 clove of garlic and add it to the pan, then cook until the onion and garlic are translucent, about 4 minutes.

2. Add the peas and cook over medium heat until the peas are just tender, about 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Remove the pea mixture from the heat and puree with a hand blender (you can also puree it in a food processor or upright blender).

4. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, on medium heat until the meat browns and renders its fat. You may need to carefully pour a little fat out of the pan from time to time to keep the grease from splattering. Remove the pancetta from the heat and transfer onto paper towels to drain.

5. Cut the remaining clove of garlic in half and rub a cut end on each piece of the toasted bread to impart a subtle garlic flavor. Discard the garlic.

6. Evenly distribute the pea puree among the pieces of toasted bread and spread to the edges. Sprinkle pancetta, mint and chile flakes over each. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: 336 calories; 7 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 25 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 3 mg. cholesterol; 170 mg. sodium.

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