While it might not look like it today, it's the first week of Spring! Monday was the Vernal Equinox, marking the slow reverse of shorter days to longer ones as we march towards summertime! June 21st, the summer solstice and official start to summer, is just 89 days away, and each day lengthens by 2 minutes and 8 seconds. We all can agree that this fall and winter felt particularly hard, even despite the lack of mountains of snow. We are counting the arrival of spring as a small victory and toasting it with a decidedly friendly white wine from rockstar lady winemaker Heidi Schrock (March is National Women’s month, after all), and an equally springy snack alongside.
Heidi Schrock’s family estate is located in the historic village of Rust, on the board of the lake Neusiedl in Austria's southeastern corner. Unlike most of the production in this corner of Austria, known as Burgenland, Heidi Schrock’s work is more focused on white wines. In addition to producing classic wines from grapes like grauburgunder and weissburgunder, she is responsible for reintroducing historical varieties like furmint and muscat-lunel, known better across the board in Hungary, and for bringing back the traditional local sweet wine called Ruster Ausbruch. Her furmint is heady and aromatic, full of white orchard fruit and flowers, washed back and balanced by the grape’s natural acidity.
This white works beautifully with fuller, creamier dishes, like this herbed pea pesto atop creamy ricotta cheese from Melissa Clark. Melissa Clark is a veteran food writer for the New York Times, and has just recently published yet another beautifully curated, easy-to-follow cookbook entitled Dinner: Changing the Game. Any cookbook with an entire chapter dedicated to “snacks and dips” has our complete, undivided attention.
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Pea Pesto with Ricotta
The quality of your ricotta is key here. Look for locally made options from smaller cheese shops - and whatever you do, steer clear of lower fat offerings. If you are feeling adventurous, you can make ricotta very simply at home- the quality of your milk with dictate the quality of the final product.
Fresh peas won't show up here until May, but I like the texture of frozen peas, I find they have a more creamy texture, which compliments the ricotta nicely.
1 cup fresh peas, or frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 cup packed basil and mint leaves
1 big garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 lb. fresh ricotta
Flaky sea salt and ground pepper to season
If you are using fresh peas, blanch them in some salted water until tender, about 2 minutes. Dry them off after cooking. If using frozen peas, dry them off after thawing.
Combine ingredients in food processor or blender, adding the olive oil slowly until you have a chunky pate. If it seems too dry, you can add more oil as necessary.
Place a fat dollop or two of ricotta in a shallow bowl, and fan it out with the back of your spoon. Top cheese with a generous spoonful of the pesto, and swirl it to mix it slightly with the ricotta. Drizzle with olive oil. Close your eyes, ignore the rain outside, take a sip, and a bite.