Deborah Madison's Peas with Baked Ricotta and Bread Crumbs

[Photograph: Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton]

Shucking fresh peas is not a quick task, I'll admit. But if you can get your hands on some fresh peas in their pods at a farmers' market in the next couple of weeks, grab them and commit to an extra half hour of meal prep. Deborah Madison's unassuming Peas with Baked Ricotta from her new book Vegetable Literacy is worth it. The bright sweetness of the buttery peas matches perfectly with the creamy richness of fresh ricotta, and baking the ricotta with olive oil and fresh bread crumbs transforms cheese and peas into an actual meal.

Why I picked this recipe: Fresh peas are one of the greatest joys of spring (in my humble opinion).

What worked: Peas and ricotta are a match made in spring heaven.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: Should you find yourself unable to resist the call of peas and cheese but are without fresh peas, this dish will work with the frozen variety. You'll only need to simmer them until they warm up (about a minute or so). Madison also suggests bulking up the dish with pasta should you want a more substantial dish. Shells, snails, or orecchiette would work well.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Vegetable Literacy to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at

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