Try this gorgeous recipe from celebrity baker Gesine Bullock-Prado’s latest New York Times best-selling cookbook!
By Amy Traverso
May 01 2023
Spring Asparagus ToastsPhoto Credit : Raymond Prado
We have been fans of Vermont celebrity baker Gesine Bullock-Prado for years. We loved her former bakery, Gesine Confectionery, in Montpelier. We love the classes she teaches at Sugar Glider Kitchen in Hartford, Vermont. We loved her Food Network show, Baked in Vermont. And then there are her books: The memoir My Life from Scratch, which tells the story of how she left a high-powered career as a Hollywood producer to become a baker in New England; her many cookbooks, including Fantastical Cakes, Sugar Baby, and Pie It Forward. Now she has a new book, My Vermont Table: Recipes for All (Six) Seasons, and it’s a bestseller! Gesine was kind enough to share a recipe from the book. It’s a spring-y and, most importantly, local take on avocado toast. Who needs imported fruit from California when you can have this?
Here is the description of this recipe for Shaved Asparagus Toasts with Spring Pea Spread and Radishes from her cookbook:
Who needs expensive avocado when a schmear of fresh pea spread is waiting for you? In the spring, I cannot get my hands in the ground fast enough to plant spring peas and radishes. They grow beautifully (and quickly) in the chilly spring air and are ready to eat by the time the first few stalks of asparagus start to peek out of the ground. If you don’t grow asparagus and you live in a climate that’s amenable to it, I highly recommend reserving a plot of your garden for it. You plant it once and it keeps on giving for years to come. Just make sure the area is very well weeded. Asparagus hates competition. The first year, it’s best to let the asparagus grow out and flower into its lovely, reedy maturity without harvesting any. This will ensure bountiful crops in the years to come. It’s a small price to pay for a veggie that grows each year without much work on your part (weeding aside). Once the spears are 5 to 6 inches high, cut them with a sharp foraging knife and eat them immediately. This is when the spears are at their ultimate sweetness and tastiness. If you’ve never tasted asparagus straight from the garden, you really haven’t tasted asparagus!
If you want to learn more about Gesine, you can read our profile of her from the September 2018 issue of Yankee.
3⁄4 cup water
3 cups fresh spring peas (you can use frozen) 1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 cup roasted pine nuts
1 cup finely grated aged Vermont Cheddar 3 tablespoons olive oil
Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the peas and cook for 1 minute (2 minutes if you’re using frozen). Immediately drain and transfer to a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid for the puree. Add the lemon zest and juice and pulse, adding a tablespoon of the reserved cooking liquid at a time, if needed, to create a spreadable puree. Add the pine nuts and pulse a few times to com- bine, then add the cheese and olive oil. Pulse just to combine and add more cooking liquid to make a spreadable paste. Season with salt to taste.
12 spears asparagus (about 1 pound)
Fill a large stockpot with water and generously salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside.
Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin strips of asparagus lengthwise. Transfer the strips, all at once, to the simmering water and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus strips to the ice water to cool down and stop the cooking.
4 slices Vermont Sourdough, lightly toasted
2 radishes, finely sliced into rounds
2 ounces herbed goat cheese (I use Vermont Creamery Goat Cheese Herb Chevre)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Spread each toast with about 1⁄4 cup of pea spread. Divide the blanched asparagus strips among the toasts and sprinkle the toasts with radish rounds. Finish with a pinch of salt and some crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle with olive oil. Yields: 4 servings
Excerpted from My Vermont Table: Recipes for all (Six) Seasons by Gesine Bullock-Prado Copyright © 2023. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.