Learn About Ricotta Cheese

Author: Chef Toby

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What Is Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta cheese is a very soft, white cheese that originates from Italy and resembles a grainy, thick cream. It is made by boiling the whey that is left over when other cheeses are made. While it can be made from the milk of any animal, it is commonly made with cow’s milk. 

What Does Ricotta Cheese Taste Like?

Most ricotta cheese is milky and mild-tasting, with a soft and grainy texture. Another variation, called ricotta salata, is very salty and crumbly, similar to feta cheese. 

Learn About Ricotta Cheese

How Can You Eat Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta’s mild flavor makes it a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes. Lasagna, an Italian pasta and tomato sauce casserole, is a typical dish that uses ricotta as a stuffing. It is also used to stuff ravioli, manicotti, and other pasta. It can be dolloped onto pasta or combined with sugar and spices to make desserts like cheesecake and Italian cannolis. 

On the other hand, ricotta salata should be used as a finishing cheese, to sprinkle on salads, soups, and other dishes for a salty bite.

Where Can You Buy Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta cheese is widely available at most supermarkets, in the dairy aisle, near the cottage cheese and sour cream. It is usually sold in plastic tubs. 

How Do You Store Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta cheese should be stored in its tub or an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use it within a week after opening. Ricotta that is molding or turning yellow should be thrown out.

Fun Fact About Ricotta Cheese:

Ricotta is one of the healthiest cheeses available. It only has ten percent fat, making it a great way to add creaminess to a dish without adding too much fat.

Did You Know?

In Italian, the word ricotta means “recooked.” This refers to the reheating of leftover whey that is used to make the cheese. 

Recipes Using Ricotta Cheese

White Pesto Pasta

In a food processor, combine ricotta, walnuts, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, grated Parmesan, olive oil, and pepper. Season to taste with salt and toss the white pesto with freshly boiled pasta.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Upgrade your standard pancakes with ricotta cheese and lemon zest for a flavor boost and fluffy texture. Make a standard pancake recipe using flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, keeping the wet and dry ingredients separate. Add the cheese and zest to the wet ingredients and slowly stir in the dry ingredients without over mixing. Cook the pancakes on a buttered griddle or skillet, until golden brown on both sides. Serve the pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup.

Ricotta Toast with Pears and Honey

For a quick snack, toast a piece of bread, spread some ricotta cheese on it, and top it with pears, honey, and almonds. Feel free to experiment with the toppings and use another nut, fruit, and seasoning combinations. Ricotta toast with roasted sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and honey is also delicious!

Sausage and Chard Pizza

In a large skillet, sauté sausage and chard stems until the meat is cooked and the stems are tender and set aside. Let the pan drippings cool and toss the chard leaves in the rendered fat. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil, add your favorite pizza dough, and top the pizza with parmesan, rosemary, sausage, ricotta, fontina, and chard. Bake in the oven until the dough is golden brown and the chard leaves are crispy.

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

This is a classic stuffed pasta dish where ricotta cheese really shines. Cook manicotti in boiling, salted water. In a large mixing bowl combine ricotta, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan, garlic, and parsley. Add ground beef and onions that have already been cooked and cooled down. Stir the mixture and stuff it inside of each cooked tube of manicotti. In an oiled baking dish, place the manicotti and top with your favorite tomato sauce and mozzarella. Bake until the sauce and cheese are bubbly

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