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Falling for Ricotta

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I don’t think Ricotta gets the credit it deserves.

First off, fresh handmade ricotta is relatively inexpensive compared to other artisan cheeses, which means it’s one you can enjoy often.  It’s low in fat and high in protein, making it very diet friendly.  And though it’s often thought of as rather plain, somewhat un-special, consider that this plain-ness factor is exactly what makes fresh ricotta so very versatile and user friendly.  It’s milky, incredibly creamy, and absolutely delicious.

Ricotta welcomes savory and sweet flavors alike.  It pairs well with flavors like real vanilla, honey, or cinnamon in sweet applications — in a cheesecake or cannoli, for instance, or spread on morning toast with some fresh peaches or roasted figs over top.  And on the savory side of things, we all know that it’s the ideal cheese for Italian dishes like manicotti, lasagna, or pizza.

But if you prefer to think outside the box, consider making these easy Zucchini Boats, which feature one of summer’s best vegetables filled with a mixture of ricotta and fresh herbs.  Or, stir a few tablespoons into soft scrambed eggs for breakfast.  You can also use ricotta to thicken a sauce or bring together a pasta dish like Ziti alla Norma.  Or just dollop a nice big spoonfull onto a slice of toasted bread, then top with crumbled bacon and a drizzle of honey.

Can you tell I got a little heavy-handed with the ricotta (and the Parmesan and scamorza) when I made this pizza over the weekend?

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Hey, it can happen when you’re working with the good stuff.  And it was a CHEESE pizza, afterall.

As you begin to consider ricotta as a cheese worth enjoying more often, and worth using in more interesting ways beyond manicotti and lasagna, I hope some of these little tidbits will help inspire you to try something new.  I, for one, have this beautiful Baked Ricotta on my to-do list, but I’ll probably relax the recipe a little bit and bake it in a gratin dish.  Make it feel more rustic.  Who knows … I might also drizzle over top some warm olive oil, chopped olives, roasted red bell peppers, and some fresh herbs.  Served nice and warm with a plate full of crusty bread beside it … sounds like heaven to me.  A light but satisfying supper for these hot summer months.

You can find fresh ricotta from Mozzarella Company, handmade in Dallas, in our cooler.  And when you do venture out and try something new with it (or resort to something tried and true and delicious), be sure and tell us about it the next time you’re in.  We’d love to know!