Friends just picked up their chicks for the year and there are few things in this world more adorable than fuzzy babies. Their nervous peeps filled the room when they first arrived, eventually softening into murmurs as they calmed and settled into to their new surroundings. They would make a good jigsaw puzzle.
Baked ricotta is an easy dish that feels much more special than the energy it takes to make. It can be served both warm and room temperature, as an appetizer with crackers or a side with pasta. I especially liked it spread on a piece of toast then warmed in the oven for a few minutes.
It’s a bit like the savory pesto cheesecake, but much easier and no water bath.
Ricotta is a delicate sweet cheese that goes well in both pastries and savory dishes. It’s made from the whey that is leftover after the the cheese has been made and removed. Technically it isn’t a cheese, but a ‘latticino’ — a dairy by-product from the cheesemaking process. Whey is allowed to fermented for two days which bring up the acidity level, then is recooked and filtered through cheesecloth. The literal translation of ricotta from Italian is ‘recooked’.
Cow’s milk produces the most mild tasting ricotta, but whey from goat, sheep and even buffalo cheese are richer and could hold up to a more bold-flavored food partner. None of this to be confused with Ricotta Infornata — ricotta that has been baked into a wheel and has a crumbly interior. It can be found online, or if you’re lucky, in Italian delis.
Feel free to mix and match other flavors to the baked ricotta:
- Walnuts, Pistachios, or Pinenuts
- Craisins, Currants, Apricots, Prunes, Dried Cherries or other dried fruits
- Fresh Herbs like Rosemary, Parsley, Oregano, and Basil
- Orange Zest
- Smoked Paprika
- Szechuan Pepper
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
2 cups Ricotta Cheese, drained
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 small clove Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest (or more…)
1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Generous pinch of Nutmeg
Spread in a ramekin or shallow baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.
Serve warm or cool, with crackers for an appetizer or as a side dish for a dinner.
“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time.
Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods.
Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass.
The spring will come.”
– Robert H Schuller