This post comes courtesy of Marie Renello, blogger at Proud Italian Cook.
Ricotta cheese is so versatile; its flavor and texture shine in both savory and sweet dishes. Whether you make your own or purchase a quality store-bought kind, ricotta is like a blank canvas, ready to take on all the flavors you infuse into it.
Try this Savory Baked Ricotta as an appetizer to slather on crusty crostini.
Mix 2 cups ricotta with 1 egg, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, 1 small smashed garlic clove, zest of half a lemon, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, a few chopped olives, fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in an oiled gratin dish and bake at 375°F until golden, about 20 minutes. When finished, generously drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and enjoy!
Roasting a mix of colorful vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, leeks, onions, kale and mushrooms creates a unique flavor on its own. But for a twist, fold the vegetables into a creamy base of 2 cups ricotta, 1/2 cup each grated Asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, 1 smashed garlic clove, 3 beaten eggs and chopped fresh herbs. Pour the mixture into a flaky homemade or store-bought piecrust and bake at 375°F until golden and set, 30 to 45 minutes.
The result is this Roasted Veggie Ricotta Pie, a perfect midweek dinner to serve alongside a tossed green salad.
Want to impress your guests? Serve them Ricotta Stuffed Chicken!
Carefully loosen the skin all the way around a whole butterflied chicken and stuff this mixture underneath the skin: 2 cups ricotta, 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, lemon zest, chopped fresh basil and parsley, 3 sliced green onions and 1 sautéed minced garlic clove. Roast the chicken until its internal temperature reaches 180°F. Every bite is a delight!
A basic mix of 2 cups ricotta, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, grated orange zest, 1 heaping tablespoon apricot or orange marmalade and 2 tablespoons Amaretto (optional) can be used for each recipe.
Roast the apricots ahead of time so when you’re ready to spread the ricotta mixture on either phyllo dough or a piecrust, you can just plop them on top and let them bake together. There is no need to roast fresh figs; just slice them in half and set on top to bake with the tart.
Bake at 375°F until set and golden, 30 to 45 minutes. Glaze the fruit on top with warmed preserves for added bling! Buon Appetito!
About the author: Marie is a passionate Italian home cook from Chicago and the creator of Proud Italian Cook, her food blog which she started 4 years ago. She enjoys every aspect of blogging, searching out the finest ingredients, the actual cooking process, writing and photographing her food, most of all it’s the joy she has sharing it with family, friends, and all her loyal readers. Her style of cooking is old world classics with a contemporary flair. Her blog has been recognized as one of “Chicago’s Best Blogs”.