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Ricotta dinner recipes that aren't stuffed shells or lasagna?

I bought too much ricotta when I made lasagna last weekend and now I have a full container at home that I don't know what to do with. Other than stuffed shells or lasagna, does anyone have any dinner recipes (sorry, no time for doing a dessert right now or an appetizer/spread)? Can I just make a pasta "sauce" with it? Thanks.

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  1. I don't know how you feel about breakfast for dinner, but ricotta pancakes are always delicious.

    I like ricotta just dolloped onto some hot pasta either with a red sauce or a pasta/vegetable toss. If you are doing just the pasta and vegetables you might want to add a little pasta water to make it a little saucier. Either way, add some grated parm or romano!

    I also do a rice casserole where I combine cooked rice (white or brown), egg whites, vegetables, ricotta and some other cheese and bake until it is set. My favorite combination right now is spinach/feta/ricotta. But you can use this same concept and incorporate a lot of different flavors because the ricotta just gives a mild creamy background

    7 Replies
    1. re: arp29

      That rice casserole sounds interesting - how many egg whites do you use?

      1. re: momnivore

        Hmmm...It really depends on how much rice/vegetables you are using. I would combine the cheeses, rice, and vegetables (which should be a fairly stiff mixture) and add a few egg whites (2-3?) until the mixture is a bit more loose. Sorry to be so vague, but I always "eyeball" it!

        Another version of the rice casserole we like is with more "Mexican" type flavors...sauteed peppers/onions, black beans, etc. I might throw in some sour cream if I have it, and top of the whole thing off with cheddar/jack. It's a good way to use up bits and pieces!

        Mamachefs suggestion sounds great, too! I make something similar with peas, mushrooms, garlic and ricotta.

      2. re: arp29

        Another suggestion for ricotta dolloped and stirred into hot pasta: Stir in a mountain of cleaned and chopped Italian parsley. I mean a LOT.

        1. re: Rella

          My mom does it with basil, mint and green peas instead. It's a great little spring dish.

        2. re: arp29

          Before they started selling paneer at Asian groceries, we used to make it out of ricotta cheese. You just spread it in a lightly oiled or buttered baking pan, bake until the edges are golden, then cut it into cubes and pan fry the cubes in a bit of oil. You can add the paneer to Indian dishes like saag paneer or, since your kids like peas, mattar paneer, or use the cubes in any kind of recipe that calls for a farmer's style cheese.

          1. re: ninrn

            I can't wait to get to Costco to get a 3# tub of ricotta. This sounds like a simple answer for Indian dishes. I imagine you spread it about 3/4" thick? About 350 degrees? Did it hold together fairly well?

            1. re: Rella

              ninrn@rella: Yes, about 350F, about 3/4" thick. Time depends on the weight of your pan and the wateriness of your ricotta. It will end up being a bit denser and more crumbly than real paneer, but once pan-fried, it stays together pretty well. Here's a basic recipe. It says to bake 1-2 hours, but I think that's a typo and was supposed to be 1/2 hour: <http://www.ivcooking.com/p269_100.php> Some Costcos carry actual paneer, by the way, and I think the product a lot of grocery stores are carrying now called Wisconsin White Cheese Curds is essentially paneer. Happy cooking.

        3. One of my alltime favorite recipes is linguine tossed with ricotta, spring onions, peas, and a shot of lemon oil, with a dash of salt and pepper. Delicious. I'd take this over red-sauce pasta any day of my life.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mamachef

            That sounds great! And my kids really love peas (at least, they do this week). Thanks!

          2. I like to make spinach and ricotta gnudi. Not difficult and really tasty. But if by "a full container" you mean the ricotta that comes packaged (and not fresh ricotta), then I would strain it first before making gnudi.

            19 Replies
            1. re: LNG212

              I'm sorry if I'm being totally ignorant, but what is gnudi? Is it similar to gnocci?

              1. re: momnivore

                Don't be sorry at all! My husband was just reading an article and asked me the same question. Only he didn't realize that I make them all the time and he loves them -- he just didn't know the name.

                Kinda like gnochi, yes. But no potatoes. Sometimes places call them "ricotta gnochi", I think. IIRC the origin of the word is about the filling of a ravioli without the wrapper, hence "nude/naked". And they are really simple to make and really tasty and you can use whatever sauce you like (red sauce, pesto, etc.).

                The fresh ricotta I buy is drier than the pre-packaged ricotta. With all the extra liquid in the packaged kind, you'd have to use more flour and that would make them more dense. Like gnochi, they should be light and fluffy. I use ricotta, spinach (cooked, chopped, squeezed really dry; or frozen and squeezed), grated parm, as little flour as possible to hold them together, s&p, nutmeg and eggs. Then form little balls, dredge in flour, boil till they float. They reheat really easily too - tossed with olive oil and popped in the oven.

                1. re: LNG212

                  instead of using more flour you can also drain the ricotta to make it stiffer, which is nicer than adding flour.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Well, yes. I said that upthread. My point in the previous post was that adding too much flour is *bad* because it makes them dense.

              2. re: LNG212

                I love spinach and ricotta. I'm not a pasta maker, so I make spinach pie with a combination of ricotta and feta instead.

                1. re: JungMann

                  With ricotta and feta, really? That sounds interesting. The recipe I use for spinach pie calls for dill. Do you use that with the ricotta too or do you use a different herb(s)?

                  1. re: LNG212

                    Actually, when I make spanokopita/spinach pie, I do add a cup of ricotta in addition to tons of feta, egg, scallions, parsley and dill. I forgot about that.

                    1. re: LNG212

                      I use spinach, dill and scallions for the greenery; feta and ricotta for the white bits and soy sauce for savoriness. Sumac is also a really good addition.

                      What do you use for creamy moisture if not ricotta?

                      1. re: JungMann

                        I don't think I've ever used anything but feta. I'll have to pull out my recipe and check now! Maybe my spanikopita just isn't "creamy". I use spinach, dill and scallions as well.

                        1. re: JungMann

                          My spanikopita (Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure recipe) does not use anything "creamy", just feta and spinach bound with eggs and seasonings. I appreciate the drier texture. It's part of what makes it interesting to me.

                          1. re: toodie jane

                            I think there are two styles of spinach pie. The drier version without ricotta is what I associate with the Arab version of spinach pie. The version with ricotta is the type of pie I encounter more often; I always assumed it was the traditional Greek version, but it seems there's more than one way to bake a pie in Greece.

                      2. re: JungMann

                        Spinach and ricotta make a great sauce over pasta too. With a little garlic and Parmesan, nutmeg, salt and white pepper, and thin it as needed with milk or half and half.

                      3. re: LNG212

                        Gnudi was my first thought, too. We make it regularly at our house. Remember, too, that ricotta is super easy to make at home!!

                        Also love it blended with oven-roasted tomatoes or red peppers, slathered on grilled flatbread, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel or sel de gris.

                        A really cool idea is to make fricos in cone shapes and pipe in a blend of whipped ricotta and something else savoury such as roasted veg, herbs, roasted butternut squash (tons of options). Absolutely amazingly delicious.

                        1. re: chefathome

                          i love gnudi, but only make that with fresh ricotta. the supermarket stuff has almost no flavor and the texture is totally different.

                          you can thin it with olive oil or chicken stock and melt it over pasta or flatbreads.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            So where do I get fresh ricotta? What does it look like? I've only ever had the stuff at the grocery store that comes in the plastic tub containers. Thanks!

                            1. re: momnivore

                              If you can't find fresh you can easily make it:
                              http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/home... which is what I usually have to do as it is very difficult to find fresh where I live. If you ever see ricotta salata it is much firmer and used for grating. Worth exploring. Yum!

                              1. re: momnivore

                                i get it from an italian cheese shop that makes it daily. it spoils quickly, so i buy it the day i plan to use it. i have never tried making it since my access to it is easy.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Oh, how wonderful! Our shop is three hours away so obviously must plan ahead. :-D Or just make some.

                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                Yes, I use fresh ricotta for gnudi too (see my post above). But you can use the tub stuff if you strain it; it's just too watery otherwise. Though I agree that fresh has much more flavor.

                                @momnivore (fun name, by the way) - I buy fresh ricotta at the cheese counter; I just ask for it. The same way you would a fresh cut wedge of parm or Italian fontina or whatever else you are having them cut for you. Our cheese counter then weighs the ricotta and puts it in a plastic container (I guess you'd call it a deli container).

                          2. Crespelle stuffed with ricotta -- also known as manicotti.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                c oliver, it's my experience that when incorporated into a dough (like gnudi or gnocchi) it freezes beautifully and loses nothing by way of taste or texture. However, I did try freezing plain ricotta once and didn't care for the texture or taste when thawed - especially the texture.

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  Yes, the only way I found to buy ricotta when I was in Egypt was frozen. When defrosted, it had a weird, grainy texture...

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Thanks. 'Course OP could make another lasagna or shelled and freeze THOSE.

                                    1. re: mamachef

                                      I've had good luck freezing it if I drain it in the fridge while defrosting. THe stuff I buy is locally made, not full of preservatives like the big brand names.

                                  2. I've had some really good pizzas which were topped with ricotta.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      this was my favorite topping when i could still eat gluten and dairy! one pizza place near me in college would put it under the other cheese with the sauce when requested, and dollop some on top as well.

                                      also great in pasta with some marinara, fontina, mozzarella, and parmesan, along with roasted broccoli and fresh basil.

                                      or fill canneloni with some crab, ricotta, old bay, egg yolk, parmesan, and bake topped with bechamel.

                                      or if you want to be really bad, mix it with smoked mozzarella, egg (optional), herbs, and form balls, then flour and dip in panko crumbs and fry til golden. great with a reduced balsamic syrup.

                                      1. re: Emme

                                        I always make extra filling when I make lasagna, just for pizza.

                                        I use an ice cream scoop, freeze the ricotta filling in individual little blobs, then stick the lumps in a baggie in the freezer. When we're having pizza for dinner, I take one out in the morning to thaw in the fridge.

                                      2. re: meatn3

                                        My favorite pizza of all time is topped with dollops of ricotta and big slices of breaded and fried eggplant.

                                        1. re: krisrishere

                                          That sounds fantastic!

                                          I once lived in the middle of nowhere. There was an "Italian" restaurant, most of what they served was god-awful. But they did make a delicious variation of eggplant Parmesan which had ricotta between the layers of eggplant. I borrowed the idea and have made mine with ricotta ever since.

                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            I used to live next door to you, meatn3! But now I live in the middle of SOMEwhere!
                                            Seriously, though.......that Parmesan sounds fantastic, and I think I need to make it that way sometime soon.....prolly at work, for "meatless whatever-day."

                                            1. re: mamachef

                                              I knew you looked familiar! We must have been in line together for the grand opening of the Baskin and Robbins/ Taco Bell ...even though there were only 12 flavors offered!


                                              I'm enjoying living somewhere much more.

                                      3. 2 suggestions:
                                        1. Mediterranean Diet Cookbook has an awesome walnut ricotta pasta sauce recipe (reprinted online here: http://www.e-rcps.com/pasta/rcp/p_wxy...). Have made this numerous times, and it's delish.
                                        2. I have a recipe from somewhere (cooks illustrated maybe?) that calls for pasta with peas, ricotta, and sundried tomatoes (and possibly other things, not on hand right now). Have made this once or twice - pretty good.

                                        1. We just had this Mexican lasagna the other night. It's a decidedly different flavor from the expected Italian. If you want to differentiate it even more, construct it as a stacked enchilada.

                                          Keeps in the fridge for several days and improves as leftovers,

                                          Lawry's Mexican Lasagna

                                          Recipe By: LA Times Culinary SOS
                                          Serving Size: 6


                                          A much requested favorite from the old restaurant. It is constructed like a lasagna but has a very different flavor altogether.

                                          I have added some elements and flavor to the cheese layer, the aromatics to the meat and the cheddar cheese & olive toppings.


                                          MEAT LAYER
                                          1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
                                          2 cup onion, chopped
                                          2 large-sized tomatillo, chopped
                                          1/4 cup taco seasoning
                                          1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
                                          1 cup canned diced tomatoes
                                          2 8-oz. can tomato sauce
                                          1 8-oz. can diced green Ortega chiles
                                          CHEESE LAYER
                                          1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
                                          2 egg, beaten
                                          1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
                                          1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
                                          1/2 teaspoon cumin
                                          1/4 teaspoon adobo powder
                                          1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
                                          salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
                                          18 corn tortillas, (6")
                                          2 1/2 cup Jack cheese, shreaded
                                          1/2 cup yellow cheddar cheese
                                          1 small can sliced black olives, (optional)
                                          sour cream


                                          1. MEAT LAYER:

                                          2. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes, adding onions and tomatillo halfway through. Drain off fat. Add taco seasoning mix, salt, tomatoes,1 can tomato sauce and chiles. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes to evaporate some of the liquids.

                                          3. CHEESE LAYER:

                                          4. Combine ricotta cheese and eggs in a small bowl. Stir in spices and cilantro. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

                                          5. ASSEMBLY:

                                          6. Pour about 1/3 of the remaining can of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13" x 9" baking dish. Lay 4 tortillas on to form the base. Spread 1/2 meat mixture on top. Cover meat mixture with 4 more tortillas. Spread 1/2 cheese mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with 1/2 of the Jack cheese. Repeat the layers, tucking the highest layers of tortillas back down inside the pan if necessary. Finish the top layer by spreading remaining tomato sauce on the last layer of tortillas and topping with cheddar cheese and olives, if used.

                                          7. Bake at 350˚ covered with aluminum foil until cheese is melted, about 20-30 minutes. Remove foil and broil until lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares for serving.

                                          8. Serve pieces topped with a dollop of sour cream.

                                          Nutritional Information:

                                          For each of 8 servings:
                                          500 calories;
                                          945 mg sodium;
                                          150 mg cholesterol;
                                          31 grams fat;
                                          25 grams carbohydrates;
                                          29 grams protein;
                                          1.99 grams fiber.

                                          1. ricotta makes a nice frittata ingredient. Also with fruit instead of cottage cheese,

                                            1. Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epricure, Book I, has a recipe for a Pizza Rustica which includes making a pastry shell and filling with a ricotta-oniuon-seasonings-eggs mixture, layered with cut slices of zucchini, then topping with another crust. It is really delicious and can be served hot, room temp or cold for picnics. Very hearty and filling as well as tasty. Freezes well.

                                              1. no time for desserts?

                                                Just drizzle some good honey over some ricotta and go to town!

                                                  1. A couple things pop into my mind

                                                    Ricotta Gnocchi (I used the Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe) which turned out surprisingly light.

                                                    Another dish is a "pie" made with feta, spinach and onions in a pyhllo dough, based upon the Greek dish, which I just went blank on and I can't remember the name.

                                                    1. Pizzarustica ... there are several ways to make it. My favorite is with ricotta, eggs, proscuitto and mozzarella. Basic pastry pie crust filled with ricotta blended with 3 or 4 egg yolks. Chop 1/2 pound-or-so of proscuitto and 1/2 pound of mozarella (fresh is best!) and push into the ricotta mix. Place pastry top on, pinch edges, paint with egg yolk and punch some holes ... just like a pie. Bake 350 for about 45 minutes and let cool before serving. And yes, you can also add ricotta to hot tomato sauce and serve on pasta... best with Rigatoni. Don't cook the ricotta though, just add it to the sauce at the very end before putting it on the pasta.

                                                      1. I make a spinach casserole with 1 box spinach and 6 oz. ricotta. You saute onion, add the spinach and seasonings, add the ricotta and some milk, and mix. Then you add a couple of eggs and bake in a casserole dish. I like plenty of onion in this. I guess it is really a big quiche. Not a fan of boxed frozen spinach, but in the midwinter I tend to be in the vegetable doldrums.

                                                        1. Thanks everyone for all the great ideas! Please keep them coming! I made a pasta dish last night with peas, ricotta, and this "dressing" of pureed parsley, evoo, anchovy paste, watercress, capers, and lemon juice (it was a sauce I had made earlier in the week for topping fish and I had a whole lot left over). It was great - I liked how the ricotta made it a little creamier while still keeping it light. And it was so easy to make! Thanks again!