During my fourteen years of being sans meat, I’ve found that when you ask vegetarians “Why aren’t you a vegan?” their response is either “too expensive” or “cheese.” In order to help my comrades–in–vegetables out, I’m scouring the internet for the cheesiest meat-free recipes around. Join me on my journey to recreate the best, and learn the history of our favorite cheese while we’re at it.
Missed last week’s recipe? Discover the perfect party app in Goat Cheese–Stuffed Mini Peppers here.
We’ve already discussed cream cheese before, so now it’s time to focus on ravishing ricotta. I’ve always loved a dollop in the middle of a bowl of pasta or in my mom’s homemade lasagna, but ricotta is best in its sweetened form: a rich, cannoli filling.
Ricotta is not technically a cheese in that it’s traditionally created from the whey left over from cheesemaking rather than straight-up milk. Generally most of the whey gets tossed, but when making ricotta, chefs re-cook the surviving whey and scoop off the solid milk blobs that float to the top. After draining out some of the extra liquid, the ricotta is ready to go. Try your hand at making ricotta with our easy-peasy recipe here.
Like most types of cheese, no one can be sure when the first farmer made ricotta. Historians do know it came to Europe via Sicily, along with a slew of other cheeses, but the exact date and location of its origin are unknown. At some point in the 13th century, there was mention of the Sicilian King Frederick II, who demanded ricotta from a local cheesemaker, which he preceded to eat on bread.
Ricotta’s a multifaceted cheese. It tastes good mixed with powdered sugar in a pastry shell or with mozzarella and tomato sauce in a calzone. I can’t say the same for most.
This dessert dip can be prepared in 10 minutes (and gone in another). It’s sweet but not too sweet and has the perfect ratio of cream cheese and ricotta. Versions online vary: some include heavy cream, marscapone, or whipping cream replacing the cream cheese. Any of these tastes delicious, but the addition of cream cheese gives the dip a thick and hearty texture.
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cups ricotta
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 cups chocolate chips, to taste
- Crushed-up sugar cones, graham crackers or fruit, to dip
- Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl with a handheld blender, except chocolate chips, until well combined.
- Add as many (or as little) chips as you want and mix with wooden spoon.
- Serve immediately in a small bowl with crushed cones, graham crackers, or fruit to dip.
Click here and check out next week’s recipe: mozzarella bombs!