If you were to condense the essence of summertime into cheese form, it may come out looking something like ricotta. Its freshness lends the cheese a sense of ephemerality, just as the dog days of summer itself at times feel all too short. Light and airy, ricotta is the perfect way to satisfy a cheese craving in hot weather, without feeling overwhelmed by heavy flavors.
Ricotta’s versatility also lends itself well to an easygoing summertime schedule. Make ricotta from goat’s milk, cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or, if you can get your hands on it, water buffalo milk. It doesn’t take much active time, and the thick, creamy results are truly worth it. Ricotta’s culinary adaptations are just as varied– use it in a savory spread, like this Hazelnut, Ricotta, and Lemon Pesto, or take full advantage of its mild flavor to satisfy a sweet tooth with our recipe for Cannoli with Ricotta, Chocolate, and Candied Fruit Filling.
If you’re thinking of using ricotta in a dinner dish, rather than tucking it away in manicotti or hiding it between the layers of a lasagna (and who wants to crank the oven for those dishes in the summer anyway?), let the cheese take center stage by tossing it directly atop pasta. This Food52 recipe from blogger Emiko showcases deliciously simple ricotta with accents of saffron:
Saffron is the special ingredient here, adding a fragrant and spiced note to this dish, not to mention the colour. It’s a little extravagant for something so simple but perhaps that’s what makes this dish so appealing, a little like a grating of fresh truffles over a fried egg. Humble paired with exquisite – it means little effort, big results.
Well, that’s all the incentive we need to get cooking!Photo by Emiko