Recipe: Baked Whole Ricotta Cheese
Baked Whole Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese appears again in my recipe file, this time as an appetizer basted with olive oil, orange zest and savory herbs. The neutral flavor of ricotta pairs well with a final drizzle of a vinaigrette studded with colorful orange zest, crispy fried sage leaves and sundried tomatoes.
When ricotta cheese is baked it becomes firmer. The texture lends itself well to slicing and serving as an appetizer with slices of good bread. Whole milk ricotta works best for this. The ricotta can be store bought or easily made from scratch with my recipe.
This is an impressive, easy to prepare appetizer that looks and tastes very elegant.
1 lb whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, minced
1 orange , zested and juiced
1 cup sage leaves fried briefly in olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
basil oil, for dressing
1-2 loaves French baguette, sliced
Drain the ricotta for several hours or overnight (overnight is best) by tipping the cheese into a sieve large enough to hold it all and without stirring press it down so it takes on the shape of the sieve. Place the sieve over a bowl to catch the liquid and place in the refrigerator while draining.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Gently tip the ricotta onto a baking sheet to avoid breaking it up and brush it with olive oil (reserve remaing oil for the final dressing). Season well with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges of the ricotta are golden brown.
Meanwhile, mix the reaming olive oil, tomatoes, olives, orange zest and juice together. Right before serving pour over the ricotta, season well with sea salt and the crispy fried sage leaves and add a splash of basil oil for color. Serve whole to be cut into wedges with slices of a French baguette.