You Can Call Me Cheese Maker…Sort of…

I’ve been wanting to make my own ricotta cheese for a while. Growing up, ricotta, which  in our Italian home we pronounced “rigorta,” was a staple.  Mom used to make a creamy, buttery, linguine with ricotta sauce as a standard item on our meatless Fridays.   This dish was a favorite with grilled Italian sausage when prepared for our Sunday menu.

My enthusiasm for making the ricotta was almost thwarted after reading a comment from a commenter on a blog claiming that “it was not possible to make ricotta  unless I had a cow or five sheep (which I don’t).”  This commenter also said that eight gallons of milk would be needed to end up with a small bowl of ricotta. While Bon Appetit had a recipe that looked doable,  I put it aside  – until two weeks ago, when we went to a chef friend’s for dinner.  My husband’s and my role with the dinner was merely to bring some wine – the chefs were doing all the cooking.  One chef, in charge of the appetizers,  brought in a two cup container filled with fresh ricotta he had just made.  It was tender, cheesy, fragrant, and delicious spread on a rosemary cracker.  He said it took 12 minutes to make using 1/2 gallon of fresh whole milk, 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt to end up with approximately 2 cups of finished product.  Re-energized, I gave it a try.

My first effort came out better than I expected.  It was easy and really good.

My husband used this to top an heirloom tomato tart he had seen Chef Michael Symon make on the t.v. show, The Chew.  Below is his tart in the making…

Our collaboration worked!  Am happy that I didn’t give up on the idea of making my own ricotta…next on my list is making fresh mozzarella cheese, then a decadent burrata.  My sister met a cheese maker who will show us how.

 

Roasting the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and garlic

Roasting the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and garlic

Making ricotta cheese...then a tomato tart from my heirloom tomatoes topped with fresh ricotta

Making ricotta cheese…then a tomato tart from my heirloom tomatoes topped with fresh ricotta

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Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes for the tart

Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes for the tart

7 Comments

  1. Your ricotta looks wonderful! I had no idea it was that quick to do, I wonder where on earth that blog commenter got their information – so far off the mark! That tart looks amazing too, and those tomatoes are wonderfully coloured and shaped. Ricotta is not a cheese I often eat, because I wouldn’t really know what to do with it, although I do have a couple of recipes where it’s combined with other things, such as spinach, in a tart or pie. What other things do you use it for?

    • Hi Lorna, I love eating ricotta with a spoon right out of the container (I don’t do that often 🙂 One of my favorite things to do with ricotta is to make a quick, creamy, “alfredo-like” sauce for my pasta…kids LOVE this sauce too as it is cheesy. In the bottom of a large heated saute pan, toss in a few tablespoons of butter, a cup or so of ricotta cheese, as much grated parmesan as you like – let them heat and meld together while your pasta is cooking…once pasta (usually linguine or a long pasta) is al dente… lift it into the cheese sauce along with a few tablespoons of the pasta water…salt and pepper to taste… mmmmm – have this with some grilled Italian sausage… it is delightful! We also do ricotta cheesecakes which are lighter than traditional New York style cheesecakes.

      • Yum! Thank you for that, and no wonder kids love it, who doesn’t love cheese?! The cheesecake sounds like a great idea too, I like cheesecake but I do sometimes find it a bit solid, so a lighter version sounds ideal to me.

    • It was realllllly good…I didn’t think the flavor of heirloom tomatoes could be enhanced from the “fresh picked” state…but wow to roasting w/ a little thyme. Thanks for your comment

  2. Looking good Linda! I was sort of put in my place by one of my tour guides in Italy who took us to a farm making pecorino and then ricotta. I spoke up saying I had made “ricotta” when she quickly corrected me saying that you can only make “ricotta” if you have already made another cheese first and then used the whey that’s left over. Whatever, your ricotta looks fabulous and I’m sure it was delicious!

    • It was delicious and so quick to make…will definitely be doing this again. Maybe there are different types of ricotta…but this recipe and the one our chef friend Mason made worked well and resulted in an abundant amount of cheese too.