Saturday, 2 July 2016

Let´s talk Ricotta cheese...

Do you like cheese? If so, then you would like this post. I am a cheese person, if this kind of term is existing. Ricotta is one of my favourites, there is something about the texture and the mild almost transparent taste of it, which makes me fall in love with it every time I cook it.  It is very diverse and can be used for sweet and savoury dishes. It goes perfect with herbs, almost all kind of spices (I have been trying in my kitchen),  leave salad, honey, chocolate,berries etc... to make long story short, this is my kind of cheese because I can invent new combination by adding any other ingredient (s) I like and always end up with something delicious.

There was just one dilemma about this cheese when we came to Spain, it seems not to be that popular here, which means you won´t get it everywere. Usually you would need to search for it in special shops, where you will pay great deal of money. And so I was searching for a recipes to make this cheese myself. It appears to be the most simple things to do, I stopped looking for ricotta in the shops and started to prepare it home every time I needed it. I find it does taste better than the store bought ricotta.. not sure why, maybe because it is freshly made or maybe because it was done by me, it is kind of cool thing to say I made this cheese myself... people get excited every time I mention this fact. OK enough of talking and bragging, here is the recipe and I really really urge you to try it out.

Ricotta cheese
  • 1 l fresh whole milk
  • 500 ml whipped cream (you can also use cooking cream)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
You would need a big bowl to catch the liquid and a sieve lined with cheese cloth or wet paper towel. Mix the milk and the cream in a big pot and put it on medium-high heat. Bring the milk to boil, mix in the salt and lemon juice and take it from the heat. Let it stay for 10 minutes, till the curds start to form, the milk will separate. Strain mixture over the sieve with the cheese towel and let the liquid drain for about 20 min.

Now since you know how to make ricotta and will definitely make it yourself, I am going to share two recipes where ricotta cheese can be used. 
Spinach salad with fresh ricotta and crispy bacon, definitely one of my favourite salads. Not only that every nutrition is urging us to eat spinach raw and not cooked, but also because the combination of spinach, bacon and honey-mustard dressing is simple divine... and if you add some homemade ricotta to it, you won´t eat any other salad again.
Pasta shells filled with ricotta cheese filling baked in tomato sauce. Delicious vegetarian alternative, which will melt every pasta fan heart. Perfect family comfy food dish in my opinion. I am usually not a big fan of frozen meals, this recipe however is perfect to be frozen. It will taste as good as freshly done and is perfect dish for times where we all are getting busy and need something quick and delicious to be thrown into the oven. Do it in advance the day before and place it in the refrigerator and you will have a perfect lunch or dinner, with no bigger efforts.
Spinach leave salad with Ricotta and crispy bacon
  • fresh spinach leaves
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • half teaspoon salt
  • some fresh grounded pepper
  • 1,5 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon french mustard
In a small bowl mix together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, honey and mustard. Fry the bacon and cut it in chunks. Place the spinach leaves in a bowl and drizzle 2/3 of the dressing over it, toss it quickly. Sprinkle bacon chunks and ricotta over it and drizzle the rest of the dressing.

Cheese filling pasta shells in tomato sauce

  • big pasta shells
  • tomato sauce in jar
  • ricotta cheese 
  • 2 eggs
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • grated mozzarella cheese
  • salt, pepper
Cook the pasta shells till almost done, set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix ricotta, eggs, hand full of cheddar, hand full of parmesan, salt and pepper till all well combined. Take your gratin dish and add some tablespoons of the tomato sauce on the bottom, distribute till all covered. Fill the pasta shells with ricotta filling and place them seam down till all gratin dish is filled. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over it, make sure all pasta shells are covered and sprinkle some of the mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top. Cook for about 30 minutes.


Enjoy!

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