How do you prefer your tangy ricotta cheese? Spread on bread, baked into cookies, or tossed in a salad? While consumers praise the merits of mozzarella, goat, brie, and bleu cheese, many forget about rich ricotta cheese, and that’s going to change today. The Italian whey cheese is not only luxurious and creamy — it’s also extremely versatile and customizable. It can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a dessert, or with your dinner, and today, we’re highlighting 6 recipes that show you how.
1. Ricotta, Mascarpone, Goat Cheese, and Honey Spread
This dip from Making Thyme for Health is what cheese dreams are made of. Enlisting ricotta, mascarpone, goat cheese, and honey to get the job done, you’ll find yourself spreading this dip on anything and everything edible. It’s rich and creamy thanks to the cocktail of cheeses, but also has a nice crunch on account of the addition of pine nuts. Find the carby vehicle of your choice and whip up this Ricotta, Mascarpone, Goat Cheese, and Honey Spread.
- 8 ounces Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
- 4 ounces Mascarpone Cheese
- 2 ounces Goat Cheese
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Directions: Place the pine nuts in the oven for about 7 minutes.
While the pine nuts are baking, combine all three cheeses in a bowl or food processor along with one teaspoon honey. Stir or process until well combined and then scoop into a serving bowl. Mix in about half of the pine nuts with the cheese, then sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
Drizzle with the rest of the honey and then serve alongside focaccia.
2. Baked Ricotta
Ready for some ricotta on its own? All you have to do is bake it. Try this recipe from Macheesmo and see what we mean. This dip couldn’t be simpler — it requires just 7 ingredients and of course, the star is the cheese. Stir some herbs into the ricotta, butter your baking dish, and load your oven. According to Macheesmo, when the dip is ready, it will be lightly browned on top and very hot.
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 1 baguette
- butter for dish
Directions: Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Scoop dip into a small, buttered baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes until lightly browned and hot. Drizzle dip with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary. Serve dip with sliced, toasted baguette.
3. Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes
These Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes from Vegetarian Times are the ideal appetizers or light entrees to warm your dinner guests up on a cold winter night. The cool ricotta cheese is the perfect contrast to the baked tomatoes. Not only is this dish aesthetically pleasing, it’s also stomach-appeasing, and points a proper spotlight on the beauty of ricotta cheese.
- 8 large beefsteak tomatoes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 cup diced zucchini plus 24 very thin zucchini slices
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice tops off tomatoes and set aside, and scoop pulp out of centers to make stuffable tomato shells; set aside. Discard half of tomato pulp; remove seeds from and finely chop remaining half of pulp.
Whisk together eggs and ricotta in medium bowl until smooth. Stir in red onion, basil, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and garlic. Add corn, diced zucchini, and chopped tomato pulp; stir until combined. Fill tomatoes just to top with ½ cup ricotta mixture. Sprinkle each tomato with ½ teaspoon Parmesan, and top each with 3 zucchini slices and tomato top. Place in large baking dish.
Bake 45 minutes, or until filling is puffed up and tops are browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. To freeze and enjoy later: Cool stuffed tomatoes completely, then place in foil-lined baking pan. Wrap tightly in foil, then in plastic wrap, and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw tomatoes completely. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes, or until filling is hot.
4. Lemony Ricotta Pasta with Basil
Here’s an easy weeknight dinner from The Kitchn that stars ricotta. The whey cheese pairs perfectly with Parmesan to dress the pasta, and the recipe developer recommends that you choose shaped noodles like rotini, penne, fusilli, and gemelli that hold sauce well. Next time you need a tasty weekday meal that is simple yet sophisticated, try this Lemony Ricotta Pasta and give the creamy cheese the attention it deserves.
- 1 pound pasta, small shapes
- 2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably freshly made
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup loosely packed basil leaves
Directions: Set a pot of water to boil. When it boils, add a few teaspoons of salt and the pasta.
In a metal bowl wide enough to fit over the top of the pot, mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, juice and zest of lemon, salt, and black pepper. When there are about 2 minutes remaining in the pasta’s cooking time, place the bowl over the pot and slowly stir the ricotta and other ingredients. You should see it loosening as it warms.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it, add the basil to the bowl of sauce and toss with the drained pasta. Serve immediately.
5. Roasted Veggie and Ricotta Pizza
Yet another way to serve ricotta for dinner is by throwing it on some warm pizza dough, along with roasted vegetables. The tanginess of the cheese cuts the saltiness of the crispy veggies in this food formula from My Recipes. Get your kids to eat their veggies via this healthy pizza and everyone wins.
- 1 pound refrigerated fresh pizza dough
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup sliced zucchini
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 medium red onion, cut into thick slices
- 5½ teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
- ⅓ cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ⅓ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons small fresh basil leaves
Directions: Position an oven rack in the lowest setting; place a pizza stone on rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes.
Combine mushrooms and next 4 ingredients (through onion) in a large bowl; drizzle with 1½ tablespoons oil. Toss. Arrange vegetables on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
Punch dough down. Sprinkle a lightly floured baking sheet with cornmeal; roll dough out to 15-inch circle on prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with 1 teaspoon oil. Spread sauce over dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella over sauce; top with vegetables. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella and red pepper over zucchini mixture. Dollop with ricotta. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone. Bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 11 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with basil.
6. Butternut Squash Ricotta Cheesecake
Diving into desserts, we first come to this Butternut Squash Ricotta Cheesecake from Coffee and Quinoa. Butternut squash and ricotta for dessert? Don’t doubt it until you try it! Instead of enlisting cream cheese to master your perfect cheesecake, opt for ricotta and go the (slightly) lighter route. The butternut squash will give the cake a subtle pumpkin taste, and that flavor goes perfectly with the ricotta.
- 4 ounces gingersnaps, coarsely broken
- 3 ounces graham crackers, coarsely broken
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 30 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoonn kosher salt
- 3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 2 cups cooked, puréed butternut squash
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, process gingersnaps and graham crackers to a fine crumb. Add the butter and salt and pulse until the mixture is moistened. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, beat together ricotta, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cornstarch, and kosher salt. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Beat in the butternut squash purée.
Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until the cheesecake is set and just barely jiggles in the middle, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place the springform pan on a cooling rack to cool completely, then move to fridge and chill for 6 to 8 hours.
7. Ricotta Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze
Lastly, Ricotta Cookies from Lovely Little Kitchen. (We told you this cheese was versatile.) This cookie recipe requires only the baking basics — butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and baking powder — but its secret ingredient is ricotta. The cheese lends itself to the tender texture of the cookies, and their flavor perfectly complements a vanilla bean glaze. Instead of serving your ricotta only for an appetizer or main meal, leave some leftover to also whip it into a delectable dessert dish.
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 15 ounces Ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Caviar of one vanilla bean pod
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Caviar of one vanilla bean pod
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and eggs on medium speed. Add ricotta cheese and mix until smooth. Add vanilla extract and vanilla caviar and blend. In a medium bowl, mix flour with baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients on low speed until a dough is formed. Drop the dough by level tablespoons onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Cookies will just start to get golden around the bottom edges.
Remove from baking sheet and place on a cooling rack with parchment paper underneath. Spoon glaze onto cookies and allow it to fully set before storing. For glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla caviar in a small bowl until smooth.