HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Ricotta - favorite use?

I bought a small 16 oz. tub of part-skim ricotta a couple of weeks ago for a lasagna, but ended up not making the recipe I had planned to make.

I've got a couple of pasta recipes that use ricotta in the sauce (with lots of herbs) but they're just not striking me as good right now.

What are your favorite uses for ricotta? Sweet or savory. (P.S. I'm not planning on using the ricotta tonight; just looking for some inspiration for later in the week.)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am forever plugging this recipe, but it really is one of my absolute favourite things to eat: ricotta whipped with honey and vanilla, served over berries. (Note: though the recipe calls for tossing the fruit with lemon juice, I find it even better to macerate them in some kind of alcohol - Crème de Cassis is my current choice.)


    4 Replies
    1. re: chloe103

      I like that one, too. It's even better when you toss in a handful of chocolate chips.

      1. re: chloe103

        And I have strawberries. Lovely, gorgeous, beautifully red strawberries. (Which I hope are ultra-sweet as well!). This sounds good - I have some Cuarenta y Tres (Licor 43) that would be a great macerating liqueur for this lovely dessert - thanks Chloe!

        1. re: LindaWhit

          what you are describing is called "gnudi" - meaning "naked pasta" of sorts - without the semolina or potato. You can dredge in flour or cornmeal before dropping in low boil water. Your recipe is typical of the preparation yet you could also combine mixture with chopped spinach. To serve, toss in a "burro e salvia" sauce (butter/sage) and top with parmigiano reggiano.

          1. re: lisacasty

            Hmn, you responded this to a post about strawberries but I think maybe you are talking to me?

            My understanding (just from recipes I've used) is that traditionally gnudi are significantly larger than gnocchi -- I've used Giada's recipe for gnudi which does include spinach, and her gnudi are about 4-5X as big as I would ever make gnocchi. Otherwise I agree that they are quite similar and in any case, I think gnudi would be another good possibility for the OP.

            (I don't know if maybe I'm missing another difference but I have definitely been served "Ricotta Gnocchi" in Italian restaurants many times; do you think they're just dumbing it down for us Americanos?)

      2. I love ricotta, and I often keep it in the house just to put a dollop on top of pasta, or as an omelet filling (usually ricotta mixed with spinach or mushrooms then)... and I definitely eat it straight out of the carton when no one's watching.

        You do have kindof a lot though, so an actual recipe might be in order. What about ricotta gnocchi? Much, much easier than potato gnocchi -- and recipe is below. I don't have a recipe for cannolis, but I'm pretty sure that filling is ricotta-based as well.

        1 15- to 16-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese or 15 ounces strained fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
        1 large egg
        1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
        1 teaspoon salt
        1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
        1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
        2/3 cup all purpose flour, plus additional for dredging
        Mix ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in bowl. Stir in 2/3 cup flour. Cover and chill mixture at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place flour for dredging in flat bowl. For each gnocchi, shape 1 tablespoon ricotta mixture into ball (I use two spoons, I guess you could use your palms if you wanted them really round), then drop into bowl of flour, tossing to coat. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheet. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.)
        Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Working in 2 batches, add gnocchi and cook until tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to sauce or serving dish.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Adrienne

          Adrienne - Looks good enough to try. But I'm wondering, on your first ingredients, what the difference is between "1 15- to 16-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese or 15 ounces strained fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese." Just the straining? Like in cheesecloth? What does it do in this recipe?

          1. re: ClaireWalter

            I always use normal containers of ricotta cheese, but I think if you were to buy fresh ricotta, it's much more moist, so it would mess up the texture/binding of the gnocchi if you didn't strain it. You do strain using a cheesecloth, just letting it rest for a few hours I think.

            I usually use part-skim ricotta, and this recipe works just fine, because the parmesan is whole-fat so it's enough to hold it together.

        2. I love ricotta, and always have some in the house. My favorite uses are:

          - spread on toast, topped with jalepeno jelly or a not so sweet orange marmalade
          - with roasted tomatoes and garlic (roast tomatoes w/ garlic & OO in 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down into a more 'saucy' texture)
          - mixed with fresh savory herbs (or just S&P), then used as a topping for something like a vegetable oven pancake (something like http://www.deliciousorchardsnj.com/re... , but with any vegetables on hand)
          - with grilled figs, drizzled with honey

          the ricotta gnocchi above looks delicious too!

          1. pedestrian but simple and quite often hits the spot for breakfast or lunch. a layer of ricotta on toast or, my preference, something like ten grain bread with nuts. stud the ricotta with an even layer of closely spaced golden raisins. good open face or full sandwhich. toasted english muffin. ricotta, strawberry jam - the kind with big hunks of fruit. excellent with bluebery preserves as well.

            1. I love love love ricotta pancakes. This is a good, and easy recipe (and it uses the whole tub!)--you can easily subsitute the orange rind for lemon, or lime, or a combo, but the citrus is essential.

              They don't need syrup or anything. Delicious on their own. Even my 2 year old asks for them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Budino

                Oh, I definitely agree ... and recently I made this with sheep's milk ricotta.

              2. I know you said you had a lot of pasta recipes, but I had to share this one. My mom makes this in the spring, and we look forward to it all year. You sauté fresh peas and shallots in oil or butter (just a little, it's not the sauce), then add to cooked orecchiette. Spoon in some ricotta and enough pasta cooking liquid to make it creamy. Grind fresh pepper on top and add fresh mint. YUM.

                A couple interesting recipes:

                5 Replies
                1. re: piccola

                  piccola, the recipe from your Mom sounds wonderful - easy! Question re: "fresh peas" - is that something readily available? I do shop at various farmer's markets in the Boston area and several supermarkets - are these peas that have been freshly shelled from the pod?

                  And those lemon-ricotta muffins - WOW.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Oh, you can definitely use frozen peas. We just use the fresh ones because it makes it more seasonal and "special." In that case, it would be shelled sweet peas - our grocery chain (Superstore) sells them in little bags around this time of year.

                    Honestly, I've yet to find a baked good that can't benefit from a little cheese. :-)

                    1. re: piccola

                      'Honestly, I've yet to find a baked good that can't benefit from a little cheese.'.

                      Couldn't have said it better myself. BTW, I can't wait to try the pasta e piselli recipe. I eat that at least 3x a year, but I never dreamed of adding ricotta to it!
                      That's genius! TIA. : ) ... Mine will be sans mint though. Bleh.

                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        Any fresh herb works (basil is awesome).

                  2. re: piccola

                    Thanks, Piccola! I have a pound of ricotta I bought by mistake, so I came here looking for suggestions -- those lemon ricotta muffins look like just what I wanted!

                  3. Mine is a very simple delicious snack.
                    Ricotta on toast with fresh sliced tomatoes and S&P (what can I say, I'm English, we love things on toast)

                    1. Ricotta is so fantastic!

                      I eat it straight with a little splenda (and maybe cinnamon and vanilla) mixed in.

                      I fill crepes for blini, and if I'm wanting high protein healthy style *crepes,* I'll just use egg whites and make faux crepes and fill w/ ricotta sweetened.

                      Love love love it on top of pizza... I hate pizza places that don't offer it as a topping... Baked under the cheese, then extra dollops on top after it comes out of the oven.

                      Fill cannoli.

                      1. I once made a coffee cake that had a wonderful lemon-ricotta filling - make a normal coffee cake recipe (like sour cream coffee cake) but omit the standard cinnamon-streusel topping. Mix up some of your ricotta with some fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar, and spread over half the cake batter and top with the other half. Then, top the whole thing with a mix of blueberries, slivered almonds, cinnamon, sugar, and perhaps some more lemon zest. Bake! It's deeelicious.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: emma dilemma

                          This sounds fantastic. I love lemons and blueberries. Will have to give this a try. I have a recipe for a lemon/blurberry bundt cake, but this will be a nice change from what I usually make. Thanks

                        2. Mmmmm. Just thinking about ricotta makes me feel dreamy. Some of my favorites:

                          *phyllo triangles -- I mix a little ricotta with any mix of sauteed seasonal veggies (softened) and a little bit of a harder shredded cheese. This is excellent with mushrooms, leeks, asparagus, red pepper, shallots... mmmm. Fold the phyllos into little triangles (like spanakopita) and bake. You could also do one giant phyllo strudel -- like a log! Mollie Katzen details how to use phyllo in her books if you've never done it before. It seems daunting but it's actually really cool and satisfying. You need patience, melted butter, and readiness to throw a few sheets away as you learn. :)

                          *Ricotta hotcakes. Nigella's recipe is my favorite and I am a pancake-lovin-girl. These are my favorite pancakes ever. As mentioned above, I don't even use syrup, although I do go a little crazy with butter sometimes :)

                          *Orange-ricotta muffins or lemon-ricotta muffins. I found a recipe for these from Giada in the food network cookbook -- called Nonna's lemon ricotta muffins. I'm sure the recipe is online if you google and it's worth looking- chow guidelines warn against posting without copyright, and this one's not on food network but I *know* you can find it in a google search --- and these muffins must be made if you like lemon, or orange, or the taste of light wonder in the morning. The muffins are almost pillowy, they're just so light and lovely and ethereal. I think they actually taste better the next day, and they certainly keep for several, although in my house I have to hide a couple or they will be gobbled up instantly! The recipe calls for almond extract and almonds but I skipped that because I just wanted the essence of lemon and ricotta to reign here without interruption Mmmmm.

                          Yay for ricotta!

                          1. On the sweet side: for dessert I often have some part-skim ricotta with a spoonful of apricot (or whatever you like) jam and some slivered almonds sprinkled on top. I also slice strawberries over the top and drizzle the whole bowl w/some honey. I've also toasted pine nuts and sprinkled those and raisins on top - drizzle that w/honey, too.

                            1. Back in the 80s I used to frequent Muggsy's Diner in Worcester, MA, where Muggsy made a fabulous stuffed pizza featuring ricotta. It sorta went like this:

                              Saute or roast up some pizza toppings, e.g., onions, peppers, mushrooms, sausage.

                              Mix 2# of ricotta with a couple of eggs; season as if it were to be a layer for some lasagne, with s&p, maybe some grated cheeses. Then add the roasted toppings.

                              Spread out some pizza dough into a big rectangle, then dump the ricotta mixture on it. Fold over the dough and seal around the edges so that you have a loaf-shaped object. Maybe brush w/ some beaten egg or milk.

                              Bake at 350 or so until the outside is nicely browned. Slice and serve with a good red sauce.

                              (For the authentic Muggsy's effect, chain-smoke while cooking, and curse while serving.)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Rick_V

                                A simple one that never fails to satisfy: garlicky broccoli rabe in good olive oil with a few red pepper flakes on a slice of crusty whole wheat bread (Italian or French), topped with a dollop of good ricotta. Cool red wine. Heaven.

                              2. I watched this one on the Food Network....oh my goodness...FABULOUS!! Serve this in a teacup and matching saucer or coffe cup and matching saucer. It makes a cute little presentation and makes you feel like you are eating a rich restaurant dessert!

                                Ricotta Cappuccino

                                1/2 cup sugar
                                1/2 vanilla bean
                                1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
                                1/2 tablespoon instant espresso powder
                                1 (3-inch) biscotti, crushed
                                Pinch ground cinnamon
                                Pinch cocoa powder

                                Place the sugar in a food processor. Cut the vanilla bean open lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and place them in the food processor with the sugar. Run the machine to make vanilla sugar.

                                Place the ricotta and espresso powder in the food processor. Blend for 1 minute. Stop the machine to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Blend for another minute. Spoon the mixture into 4 small coffee mugs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

                                To serve, top the ricotta cappuccino with crushed biscotti. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cocoa powder.

                                A MUST try!!

                                Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network

                                1. I was browsing the Simply Recipes website today and she had a Zucchini, Chicken, Ricotta sandwich that looked really good. The zucch is grated and fried, cooled and then added to the ricotta as a filling to be made into the sandwich with chicken breast. I am definitely going to try this.

                                  1. oh I use it in a pasta dish with gemelli.Gemelli, sausage, onion garlic and olive, fresh basil and marinara sauce.Layer it. I saw some what of a take on not-lasagne on (Rachael Ray) sorry. I don't really care for her cooking style or her recipes. But one night I was in a hurry and just globbed the ricotta on in the dish. Came out pretty darn good.

                                    1. The Zuni cookbook recipe for spaghetti carbonara calls for mixing ricotta with the eggs before mixing the eggs in with the hot pasta and bacon, and it's the best carbonara that I've ever made.

                                      1. I like to mix ricotta with fresh raw english peas, pulsed together in the food processor, pinch of sea salt, some ground pepper and fresh snipped chives. Then I cook some pappardelle pasta, and mix in the ricotta/pea mixture with the warm pasta. It's so simple but so delightfully fresh.. sometimes I carmelize scallops and put a few of those around the dish too.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Lyndalh

                                          What a lovely light summer dinner -- I can't wait to try it! I'm going to Cape Cod for a week so I'll try with some of their big bay scallops! mmmmm. I can guesstimate, but about what ratio ricotta to peas do you use? ever use frozen if you can't find fresh?

                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                            hi foxy fairy, I use roughly 2 cups peas to 3/4-1 cup ricotta, I have used frozen baby english peas, I just let them thaw first, they are delicious as well. I usually preserve a ladle of the pasta water to add in, incase it's too dry.
                                            My favorite way to prepare the scallops is to dip them in sugar, both sides and then sear them in a hot pan until they carmelize, I picked that one up online from Emeril I think. .I think It's also nice to drizzle a of fresh chive oil over the top, just mix chives with olive oil in the food processor.
                                            A week in Cape Cod sounds fantastic! have a wonderful time

                                        2. Any ricotta-lovahs who shop at Shaw's --- the BIG Dragone ricotta is on sale for $2.99. What a deal! Tomorrow's the last day of the sale. I am stocking up so I can make just about everything suggested on this thread! I grabbed the last of the Dragone at my Shaw's, actually, and then ended up with a rain check for several more at the price :) Yay!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                            "Grandma's Pine Nut and Ricotta Tart" from Mario Batali's "Molto Italiano" cookbook. Simply delicious. Wash it down with a glass or two of Vin Santo, to guild the lilly. Or, as I often do with leftover ricotta, open the fridge, spoon a couple of spoonfuls straight into your mouth and say goodnight.

                                            1. re: MagnumWino

                                              Thank you everyone for the excellent recipes! I love to have ricotta in the house but as a busy mom on the run, my creativity is stalled.

                                          2. Ricotta Pancakes. I use the first recipe from here all the time, simple and fast. A grate of lemon or orange peel adds a great flavor.