Weeknight Cooking

Spring Pea and Ricotta Torte with Lemon and Mint

March 14, 2011

Spring Pea and Ricotta Torte


We as a cooking people can agree to disagree about many things: are or are not dried chickpeas vastly superior to canned? Cornstarch as pudding stabilizer –- acceptable or Lucifer’s work? Just how long should the coffee sit in the French press? But on this we are certainly all in accord: when you present your spouse with their dinner, they should not bust out laughing.

This happened with TasteFood’s Spring Pea and Ricotta Torte with Lemon and Mint, which should have caused me a great deal of bitterness but I was too busy popping bites of this Meatless Monday marvel into my mouth to get too worked up.

Well, I might have said something at some point along the lines of, “Remember when we were dating and you served me salad out of a pasta pot? So, how’s it going since then?” Or, maybe I didn’t. Who can recall such marital exchanges really, but shall we get to the recipe?

You read the word torte, you start thinking crust. You start thinking crust, you well might then think, not during the week. But this is sort of a misnomer. There is no crust involved here, nor is there virtue, meatless or not. But what this recipe does do is marry something lovely and green with a beloved creamy counterpart to create a layered but simple and versatile quick dish.

As you know, I do not traffic in judgment over frozen organic vegetables at the time of year when you can still see your breath on the back porch as you stand there, waiting for the puppy to do his thing. Fresh peas are a wonderful thing; if you’ve got them, use them but you should blanch them a bit first.

TasteFood (who once ate puffin, you should know) suggests that you use a 9-inch springform pan, but if you want to use a cake pan with just a removable bottom, as I did, no calamity will befall your tart.

I cooked my shallot closer to three minutes, because that’s just me. As my peas simmered (I used water, just to keep it vegetarian) I got out my fairly-new food processor, forgot how to put the top on properly, cursed a little bit, asked for help from no one in particular, then finally remembered, felt abashed, pondered reading the manual at some point, then moved on. (This part is optional.) Next, get your peas a whirlin’ as instructed, dumping in the eggs one lovely yolk at a time.

What emerged from my oven 25 minutes later was a fragrant and creamy pan of bright deliciousness, which also happened to be Technicolor green. “Really?” my husband asked, laughing, as I proudly held out my dish. Yes, really. Because in truth, my dish did not quite look like the photo our recipe scribe provided. There were no tawny-colored edges, just greener ones. This led to a feeling of some inadequacy, which vanished when I tasted the dish. Its texture is soufflé like, but its flavor has some bite, like a cheese course served in your garden.

Shop the Story

Even after three large family servings, there was some left; I reheated it the next day as a side. In the author's photo, this dish is finished with one more green touch -- slivers of chives dotted on top. But Jenny doesn’t garnish. I just saved you three more minutes!

Spring Pea and Ricotta Torte with Lemon and Mint by Tastefood




  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
  • 2 cups shelled peas
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • large eggs
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup finely grated young Pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan and wrap bottom with foil to prevent any leakage.

  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, one minute. Add peas and 1 teaspoon salt; sauté briefly to coat. Add water or stock. Cook until peas are tender and liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

  • Transfer half of the peas to a bowl of a food processor; purée. Add ricotta and nutmeg; pulse to blend. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk in creme fraiche, 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses. Stir in remaining peas, mint, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.

  • Pour eggs into prepared springform pan. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake in oven until edges are golden brown and center is puffed and cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.



By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • gustus
  • fortyniner
  • Baywife
  • veggiemama
  • wanderash
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


gustus March 22, 2011
you had me at "there is no crust"
fortyniner March 21, 2011
Made this tonight - substituted sour cream for the Creme Fraiche (as supermarket had run out!), also grated some feta and had to use frozen baby peas. I added some broccoli in with the spring onions (as suggested previously by veggiemama) I also sprinkled some Quandong Pistachio Dukkah on the top to give it a nice crispy finish. Very simple to make, I used my sticker blender to do the whole thing, rather than getting the processor out. Looked too nice to actually cut into! Vegetarian daughter is going to love this one.
Baywife March 20, 2011
How can you tell a young pecorino from an old one? Grey hair? Wrinkles?
TasteFood March 20, 2011
Old pecorinos tend to be harder, more crumbly and saltier than young ones.
veggiemama March 20, 2011
I'd love to try this with broccoli in place of the peas.
wanderash March 17, 2011
Peas are out here and I am already throwing them in everything! I'm going to make this (with a side of bacon to appease the rest of the family). Thanks for highlighting this one!
Jestei March 20, 2011
sounds wonderful. pea on!
JenniferF March 15, 2011
Sounds amazing. Thursday it is. Did the IP go for it?
Jestei March 20, 2011
she did actually
Stacey S. March 15, 2011
There is a similar tart in Rose Bakery Breakfast Lunch Tea cookbook, but it adds artichokes.
The perfect spring tart.....can't wait to try it!
Jestei March 15, 2011
I get very excited about artichokes.
Oui, C. March 15, 2011
This looks brilliant, and delicious, just like everything else posted here by Lynda (Tastefood). Thanks, Jenny for bringing this dish to my attention, I'd missed it before and am happy to now be able save it into my Food52 recipe box. - S
Jestei March 15, 2011
thrilled and hope you like it!
TheWimpyVegetarian March 15, 2011
I really love the way you write, Jenny! It's so visual and connecting, if that makes sense. And I love the way you develop recipes Lynda! I can't believe we talked on the phone today and I never said a word of congrats. I can see that in the future I need to check Food 52 every morning before I do anything else. It's so great to see you and your food in the spotlight today. (Puffin? Really? Please don't tell me they taste like chicken...)
Jestei March 15, 2011
thank you so very much!!
TasteFood March 15, 2011
Thanks, Susan! I'll share the puffin details over wine on your deck...
maggieh March 14, 2011
I don't garnish, either. high 5!
Jestei March 15, 2011
up high! down low!
Greenstuff March 14, 2011
TasteFood is kind of a favorite of mine--hers was the first Food52 members whose blogs I bookmarked. What I get from this experience is that I can get St. Paddy's without dying bagels or the entire Chicago River green. Works for me; dinner Thursday?
Jestei March 15, 2011
yes. do it. perfect.
mrslarkin March 14, 2011
Pretty! Thanks, Jenny and TasteFood. Unfortunately, I'd get laughed straight OUT of the house, where I'd sit and eat the torte all by myself on the back deck. Which, actually, with a glass of wine, might not be such a bad idea. Maybe I'll make it for Easter, when I know there will be more pea appreciation.
fiveandspice March 14, 2011
Could I join you out there? This torte on a deck with wine sounds pretty idyllic to me (as long as your deck is somewhere warmer than Boston currently is)! Thanks for highlighting this one Jenny - and lovely recipe Tastefood!
TheWimpyVegetarian March 15, 2011
Well I think both of you should come to San Francisco and we can sit out on my back deck with this great sounding dish and some champagne! (OK, maybe not today with it being kind of rainy, but it's definitely not cold). TasteFood lives just 10 minutes down the road, so maybe she can come by and we can toast her for this great recipe!
Jestei March 15, 2011
i am there. at this point, there won't be enough for all of us. please keep my wine cold.
TheWimpyVegetarian March 15, 2011
No problem. Does this mean I need to clean my house? :-(
fiveandspice March 15, 2011
No need to clean if we're on the porch!
Bevi March 14, 2011
This is the perfect week for green food! Thanks Jenny for the smile you put on my face, and TasteFood for a really nice recipe.
Loves P. March 14, 2011
It's about that time of year for me to start obsessing about Passover and recipes that look pretty and Springy (a word?) without matzoh or matzoh bi-products as ingredients! This would make a lovely addition to a holiday meal. Thanks
Jestei March 14, 2011
totally. a great side.
drbabs March 14, 2011
Ugh, i just realized that i mis-spelled cannoli.
Jestei March 14, 2011
who doesnt??
healthierkitchen March 14, 2011
Another laugh out loud post! And thanks for the intro to another great recipe. Love English peas right out of the pod, but otherwise, I'm a frozen pea girl.
Jestei March 14, 2011
yes we love of those chez us
Lizthechef March 14, 2011
Lovely recipe, TasteFood, and thanks for the morning laugh-out-loud, dear Jestei...
Jestei March 14, 2011
thanks liz!! hope you are well!
TasteFood March 14, 2011
I am really sorry about the puffin.
Jestei March 14, 2011
oh i considered it a badge of honor!
TasteFood March 14, 2011
Iceland made me do it.
mcs3000 March 14, 2011
I laughed hard at that line too. Anything with that much cheese has to be good. Yes, please.
Jestei March 14, 2011
its' so yummy.
drbabs March 14, 2011
“Remember when we were dating and you served me salad out of a pasta pot?" I am laughing so hard I can barely read the rest of the article.
Jestei March 14, 2011
he would do it tomorrow. i promise you.
drbabs March 14, 2011
I would love to make this, but here's a short list of some of the (many) things that my husband hates: ricotta (except in canolli), parmesan cheese, romano cheese, creme fraiche. Oh well.....
Blissful B. March 14, 2011
But I'm guessing he loves cake.
Blissful B. March 14, 2011
I just realized that statement doesn't really follow this conversation, does it? It's just a riff on picky eaters (and memories from my own picky-eater childhood). I will step out of the room & let talk of tortes resume!
drbabs March 14, 2011
Yes, he loves cake--desserts of all types! :) (He was hoping I'd make lots of pots de creme for pudding week....)