This recipe for baked ricotta cheese is incredibly easy and a simple but delicious spread on a toasted baguette. Serve alone or with olives and/or salami on the side. Mild in taste, ricotta cheese is a good ingredient for use in adding texture to sweet foods as well as some savory dishes.
About Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is a moist fresh Italian cheese made from whey that is used in Italian dishes like lasagna, manicotti and cheesecake. It is made from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo's milk whey that remains after the curds are removed. Following the removal of the curds, the whey is reheated to form another curd that becomes ricotta cheese. Since the casein is filtered away from whey during cheesemaking process, Ricotta is suitable for persons with casein intolerance.
To produce the fresh form of Ricotta, cheesemakers skim the small white lumps off the top of the heated milk to create a pure white very soft, smooth-to-granular textured cheese, similar to cottage cheese. It is then packaged in round plastic containers for ease of handling and access.
Buying high-quality fresh ricotta can make a huge difference in texture and flavor. You'll notice a difference in flavor and texture. First of all, the ricotta will actually have flavor (like sweet cream) and the texture will be smooth and fluffy, not thin and grainy. You can also try to make a simple version of ricotta cheese at home.
Other Types of Ricotta Cheese
In addition to fresh ricotta, you might also see ricotta salata and ricotta infornata at the store.
Ricotta salata is fresh ricotta that has been salted and pressed into a wheel of cheese that is aged for several months. Ricotta salata is hard, white and crumbly and has a mild salty, nutty and milky flavor. It can be shaved or grated over salads, pastas and vegetable dishes.
Ricotta infornata is a smoked version that has been baked and lightly browned. It is firm enough to be cut into wedges and has a soft, crumbly texture. It has a thin brown rind from being baked in the oven. Although the texture is different, the flavor is very similar to fresh ricotta.
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon herbs (fresh and finely chopped; parsley, thyme, chives, and basil are all tasty)
- 1 pinch sea salt (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Mix the fresh herbs and salt into the ricotta. Fill a small baking dish with the ricotta. A small ramekin or mini-tart pan works well.
- Drizzle the olive oil on top. Bake for twenty minutes. If the top doesn't brown, finish the dish by placing it under a broiler for a few minutes so it's browned and bubbly.
- Drizzle more olive oil on top before serving. You can also add more fresh herbs if desired.