Endive Leaves with Lemon Ricotta, Smoked Salmon and Fried Capers
In this light-tasting version, the fresh crunchy spears of endive take on the role of chips. You can make the ricotta several days in advance. If you’d like to use store-bought ricotta instead, select a good-quality product and add one teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and two tablespoons of olive oil several hours in advance.
THE LEMON RICOTTA:
In a heavy, nonreactive pot over medium heat, combine the milk, cream, lemon zest, and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer (the ideal temperature is 180 to 185°F). Do not boil. When the mixture begins to sim- mer or reaches the target temperature, turn off the heat and add the buttermilk and lemon juice. Stir briefly, then let sit for 20 to 30 minutes while the milk coagulates into curds and whey.
Line a strainer with a double layer of cheese- cloth, and set it over a bowl. Pour the coagulated milk mixture into the strainer to allow the liquid to drain off. This can take 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on your desired consistency. The longer you drain the cheese, the drier and grainier the texture will be. I let mine go until most of the liquid is gone but the ricotta is still a little loose.
Discard the liquid that has drained off, and transfer the cheese to a bowl. Drizzle with some fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to a week.
THE FRIED CAPERS:
Rinse and thoroughly dry the capers. In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the capers, and cook briefly, until crispy. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
ASSEMBLING THE NACHOS:Separate the endive spears, rinse, and pat dry. Arrange them on a serving platter. Place the lemon ricotta in the center and top with the smoked salmon. Garnish with the fried capers and dill, if desired.
Written by Monica Byrne
Photography by Michael Harlan Turkell