I am really obsessed with ricotta cheese right now (from the farmer's market). I usually make some variation of pasta with ricotta, lemon zest, basil, and zucchini. Does anyone out there have any other recipes using ricotta? I'm up for any use: breakfast, dinner, dessert.
Ricotta lemon pudding was my brother-in-law's favourite dessert. I made it for him in Sicily with fresh-from-the-tree-lemons that he had climbed the tree to pick and ricotta so creamy you could slather it on your face!
Just add one large (or two small beaten eggs) to 2 cups ricotta (cream the cheese in a blender if yours is lumpy). Add sugar to taste and the juice and zest from 1 lemon. Bake in moderate oven (350) in a bain marie until just done/until it has ceased to wobble in the middle when you shake it. Allow to cool/ serve with a sprig of mint or lemon slice garnish. If you have some fresh berry coulis, so much the better.
The kind of dessert I have in mind is actually more like a tart than an American style cheesecake. Here's the recipe I love - I don't remember where I first found it, so sincere apologies to whomever should be getting the credit.
Crostada di Ricotta
For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup tart jam/jelly/preserves, such as marmalade or sour cherry
To make the pastry, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender or a fork, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir just until the liquid is incorporated. If mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or so of cold water. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Position a rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 350°F.
Place dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll out. Transfer to a 10” tart pan, pressing against bottom and sides; Trim edges. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, in another bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Spread jam over the bottom of the tart shell, and then pour cheese filling into shell and spread evenly.
Bake until the top is puffed and golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Remove the pan rim and let the tart cool completely.
*note: I most recently made this with some homemade meyer lemon marmalade, which I think has been my favorite combo. Alternately, you could also omit the jam/preserves entirely.
I like it simply dabbed over a nice spaghetti with marinara sauce, and let the warmth of the pasta start to melt the ricotta.
Sweetened and eaten with fresh berries or other fruit.
Dabbed over scrambled farm fresh eggs, with a sprinkle of fresh herbs like dill, again the warmth starts to melt the ricotta.
Yes and along with that the ricotta can be mixed with a bit of finely minced garlic & parsley, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Adding a few beaten eggs it can be one of the layers in a terrific lasagne or eggplant parm. Add thinly sliced prosciutto or Parma ham and you can stuff chicken breasts then bake.
Not with the fresh berries, however, in the above variations.....
I like to make ricotta gnocchi mix that you can pipe directly into the pot of boiling water (whenever I make gnocchi that require rolligng out and handling, they end up like rocks!). This nice thing is you can freeze ricotta gnocchi mix in a ziplock, defrost in the fridge the day you want to use them, snip off the tip of the bag and voila - instant piping bag.
Before I started making them, I imagined they'd be quite heavy but I actually find them lighter than the classic potato gnocchi.