sweet pea bruschetta, ricotta and mint

sweet pea bruschetta with ricotta, mint and pecorino

I’ve been wanting to eat at the restaurant A16 for a few years now, and I finally had a chance to go there while I was San Francisco earlier this month.

I dove into the absolutely amazing wine list,  carefully curated by wine director Shelley Lindgren, which contains literally hundreds of Italian labels, so many I’ve never tasted (yet).  If I were lucky to live anywhere near A16, I’d consider drinking wine there as much as possible. It would be an educational journey through Italy by way of wine, and I wouldn’t need a passport.

I sipped a Negroni while studying the list, tasting my starter, a sweet pea bruschetta that could have been a meal all by itself.

sweet pea bruschetta with ricotta, mint and pecorino

Firebrand, a brick oven bakery in Oakland, makes the bread served at A16. It’s the kind of bread that I crave every day. The crust is thick, dark and chewy, with a smoky hint of char. The interior crumb is dense, moist and full of flavor. Cooks at A16 toast the bread in their wood-fired oven before assembling the bruschetta, so it’s like a double-down of deliciousness.

The toppings on the bruschetta the night I was there were house-made ricotta, mashed sweet peas and preserved lemon-mint pesto. Every course I had after that was great, but it was that bruschetta I keep thinking about.

fresh mint

I did my best in this recipe recreation, but – poor me! – lacking a wood-fired oven, fantastic handmade bread and ricotta, it really does earn the label “inspiration”.

Despite the relative poverty of ingredients and firewood, my version took the edge off an urge to book another flight west. It’s fresh pea season somewhere, but not where I live, so I used frozen peas. I think they are a very fine substitute – and I have to say maybe even better than fresh ones. Sometimes after all the work of shucking peas, I find them starchy, hard and not very sweet.

The one element that came from “home” was mint, which has been stubbornly, happily green and thriving in my garden all winter.

sweet pea bruschetta with ricotta, mint and pecorino

sweet pea bruschetta with ricotta, mint and pecorino

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 ¾-inch thick slices crusty bread
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Handful fresh mint leaves, sliced thin
  • 2 ounce chunk Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Drain the ricotta for an hour in a fine mesh colander or cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl.
  2. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil; add a teaspoon salt and the peas. Cook 1 or 2 minutes; drain and transfer to a bowl. Mash the peas to a coarse consistency using a potato masher or wooden spoon along with 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, pepper and salt to taste.
  3. Heat a griddle or grill to medium high heat. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and toast until dark golden brown on both sides. Remove the toasted bread from the griddle and scrape the garlic clove over the tops.
  4. Spread some ricotta over the bread, sprinkle with mint and spoon some peas over. Use a vegetable peeler to shave Pecorino cheese over each bruschetta. Drizzle with olive oil before serving warm or at room temperature


  1. These toppings are perfection, so lovely for spring!

  2. This just sounds like spring.Beautiful photos as well!

  3. I agree with Laura– perfection!

  4. Bruschetta is one of my fav snack bite. The topping sounds so spring like and the addition of ricotta is extremely refreshing!

  5. I love peas and mint. And ricotta. And bruschetta. I make something similar, but I make a pea puree and put it atop bruschetta. Have you ever tried Pecorino Toscano? It is really wonderful.

    Congratulations on a beautiful post. It looks like spring, and your photography and styling are, as always, beautiful. Complimenti, amica!

    • Adri, your version sounds like something I’d be happy to taste 🙂

      I try to bring home Pecorino Toscano whenever I find it. We lack great cheesemongers here, but once in a while my Whole Foods will have it – happiness! The Pecorino I’m using now actually comes from Costco. It’s much younger – less sharp – and creamier in texture than the dry pieces I normally get for grating. I’m enjoying it, as it reminds me of a Toscano.

  6. This sounds like the springiest appetizer ever! Now I know what to do with the mint that’s been popping up in my garden. 🙂

  7. These are just gorgeous! And so perfect for spring!

  8. I made really similar crostini recently. Mine had prosciutto involved, as well. http://www.strawberryplum.com/pea-ricotta-prosciutto-crostini/ They’re such a simple and tasty spring appetizer!

  9. These look delicious! I love the combination of peas and ricotta – it just screams Spring!

  10. I had a similar sandwich and it was truly delicious. Pea in a sandwich is a good treat.

  11. Hi Karen; you’ve got a really nice blog.
    And this recipe… it’s really my kind of food!
    It tastes spring!
    Have a nice day

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