With weather so good it makes me want to spend every last minute I can outside, my meals tend to be foods I can carry to one of the benches on the boardwalk by the water. (The boardwalk is just 30 yards away from the house and RIGHT above the beach.) Take this pea tartine, which required little prep work and even less clean-up. I didn’t even bother with a plate, a napkin, or silverware – just put it together, plopped it on a cutting board, then parked myself on my favorite bench to watch the fishing boats come in with the tide.

The goat cheese spread I made for it is something of a triumph; I’ve been looking for just the right combination of herbs, onion, and garlic to mix into soft cheese and I think I’ve finally hit on the right ratio. A wonderful thing happens when you use a mix of herbs, too. They play off each other so that no single flavor dominates.

Since I only made one tartine for myself, I had some of the spread left over to serve with drinks to a few neighbors came over the next evening. When one of them picked up a piece of bread to rub up the last bits remaining in the bowl, I knew the recipe was a keeper.

Fresh Pea and Herbed Goat Cheese Tartines

Goat Cheese Spread
8 oz. (200 g.) fresh goat cheese
¼ cup (50 ml.) milk
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup (60 g.) finely chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, chervil, parsley, and mint, but any of the milder, tender-leafed herbs will do)
¼ to ½ cup (30 to 60 g.) finely chopped chives
2 Tbs. finely chopped shallot or red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. grated lemon zest, optional
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Fresh Pea Tartines
2 cups shelled fresh (or frozen) peas
4 large slices of country bread
olive oil for drizzling and fleur de sel for sprinkling, optional

To make the Goat Cheese Spread: Combine the goat cheese, milk, and olive oil with a fork until smooth. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, and let stand 15 minutes so that the flavors develop.

Meanwhile, to make the Tartines: Cook the peas in a large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, and shock in a large bowl of cold (ice) water to stop the cooking. Drain again.

Lightly toast the bread slices –crisp toasting them may make them brittle and cause them to break apart. Spread each slice with about ¼ to 1/3 cup of the Goat Cheese Spread, then top with about ½ cup peas. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Makes 4 tartines