On several occasions, while dining in Italy, I encountered a simple, almost magical treat: a pasta course with tomato or meat sauce topped with a heaping tablespoon of freshly made ricotta cheese. Never having had this combo in the States, I began trying different store-bought ricotta, of varying quality, but I could never duplicate that experience. Not even close. That is, until I dined at Roost.
Roost’s homemade ricotta, served in various incarnations, was what I had been searching for. And then I found out that chef and owner Megan Henzel does a ricotta demo, showing us how to make this cheese at home. And here it is. So, so delicious. And surprisingly easy to make.
I am determined to never buy ricotta again.
- 6 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 cups buttermilk
- Mix all the ingredients in a pot and stir, bring to a simmer and allow the curds to form. Do not let it come to a full boil. You will see the curds floating up to the surface; 10-15 minutes is all it takes.
- Strain through a chinois or cheesecloth.
- Chill in the fridge.
Ricotta Banana Pancakes with Honey Walnut Butter
Ingredients (Makes 12 3-Inch Pancakes)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup ricotta
- 1/3 cup 2% milk
- 1 thinly sliced ripe banana
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Canola oil
- In a small skillet melt the butter. Add the walnuts and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Add the honey and stir until combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix all ingredients together except for the canola oil.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over low to medium heat. Working in batches, add batter, using a 1/4 cup measure for each pancake. Cook until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with the sauce spooned over the top.
Green Peas and Ricotta on Bread
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 4 slices good-quality bread, toasted
- 2/3 cup ricotta
- 1 cup cooked peas, quickly sautéed in olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse black pepper
- Spread the ricotta over the four slices of bread. Divide the peas among the four bread slices.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and some grinds of fresh black pepper and salt.
Cencione with Tomato Sauce and Ricotta
One of my favorite pasta shapes, Cencione, is dense and holds up to a rich and somewhat heavy treatment. Cencione means “dishcloths” or “little rags” in Italian. Don’t overcook and enjoy.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
- 1 lb pasta (I used Cencioni.)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup sliced scallions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce, heated
- 1 cup ricotta
- Coarse black pepper
- In a large saucepot cook the pasta according to the directions.
- In a medium skillet heat the olive oil. Add the scallions and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute or two.
- Divide the pasta among your serving bowls. Top with the heated tomato sauce, a dollop of ricotta and the scallion garlic oil. Season with black pepper and salt.