A couple of weeks ago we discussed the glories of ricotta for breakfast. Today, we make some recommendations for lunch and dinner.
Ricotta dip for crudités, chips, pretzels. You can season and serve it as is, in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil; or blend it in the food processor, with or without fresh herbs (we like chives or dill). You can also blend it with plain yogurt.
Ricotta sandwich bites: Grill slices of summer squash or zucchini and fill with fresh ricotta, seasoned to taste.
Ricotta spread: Season and serve with crostini or fresh baguette slices. Seasonings include salt and pepper, plus anything you like from garlic to heat (chili flakes, minced jalapeño) to fresh herbs and lemon zest. Look on your spice shelf for inspiration. Here’s how we topped ricotta crostini with green peas.
Topping: Use ricotta instead of yogurt to top grains, vegetables, baked potatoes. Garnish with a bit of fresh basil, chive, dill, parsley or other favorite herb. You can also purée the ricotta into a sauce.
Salad: Add a scoop of seasoned ricotta to a mixed green salad, instead of a round of goat cheese.
Radish salad: Make a first course salad of radishes and sugar snap peas, topped with ricotta and fresh-ground pepper.
SALADS & SIDES
Ricotta spread with honeycomb and toasts. Photo courtesy Davanti | Chicago.
Casserole: Check recipes for the type of casserole you’d like to make.
Pasta: Make ricotta gnudi or ravioli, stuff shells, layer lasagna or top cooked pasta (tossed with a bit of butter or olive oil) with a mound of ricotta, seasoned and garnished with snipped herbs, lemon zest, peas or snap peas.
Savory sauce: Purée ricotta with peas, spinach or other vegetable. Place a layer of sauce on the plate before adding the protein.
Ricotta salad, topped with sliced radishes, microgreens and a drizzle of basil olive oil. Photo courtesy Ox & Son | Santa Monica.
Baked ricotta: Mix it with berries before or after baking, or serve it plain with a drizzle of honey.
Berry topper: Instead of whipped cream, use ricotta. We sweeten it lightly and add cinnamon or vanilla; but you can also process it until smooth and use it as a sauce.
Dessert cheese: Cheese doesn’t have to be sliceable to be on your cheese plate. Serve a bowl of ricotta with customizable accompaniments, like dried and fresh fruits and nuts, honey, jam, Almondina cookies, date nut bread or toasted raisin bread.
Pudding: Make “cannoli pudding” by sweetening the ricotta and addding a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla. Top with mini chocolate chips, or serve with berries and/or cookies. You can find other types of ricotta pudding (called budino di ricotta in Italy), some of which are soft like rice pudding and others baked into tarts. Here are recipes for vanilla and a soft chocolate versions.
Ricotta ice cream: Follow a recipe for cream cheese ice cream or mascarpone ice cream and substitute ricotta.
MAKE YOUR OWN RICOTTA
While you may not have leftover whey begging to be made into ricotta, you can make your own version from milk and cream. Sure, it’s easier to buy it ready-made; but if you like to cook, you’ll enjoy the experience. This recipe is adapted by one from Chef Anne Burrell, who makes it to serve as an appetizer spread with toast.
And it’s easy! Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes, draining time is 15 minutes.
Ingredients For 4-6 Servings
6 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Finishing oil (we like to use flavored olive oil, like basil or rosemary
Bread: baguette, rustic loaf, semolina or other favorite
Optional: 1 clove garlic
1. COMBINE the milk, cream, vinegar and salt in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until curds begin to form.
2. LINE a mesh strainer with several layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the curds and whey through into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze some of the excess liquid from the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a serving dish and drizzle with big fat finishing oil.
3. PREHEAT a grill or broiler. While the ricotta is draining, slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toast the bread on the grill or in the broiler on both sides. Swipe the garlic 2 times on each piece of toast and drizzle each piece with finishing oil. Serve the ricotta, slightly warmed, with the grilled bread.