Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ricotta Cheese Spread with Lemon and Herbs

Draining the ricotta removes excess moisture, resulting in a stiffer, more spreadable mixture, but if you are in a hurry, the recipe works just fine without draining the cheese or draining it for less time. You could also use goat cheese, which does not require draining. Vary the fresh herbs depending on availability. Substitute dill, parsley, rosemary, or oregano, or a mix. Remember that the intensity of fresh herbs varies. Add small amounts, taste, and then add more.

  • 15 ounces whole-milk or part-skim ricotta
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 basil leaves, chiffonade, for garnish

1. Empty the container of ricotta into a strainer and place over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Alternatively, drain at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Combine the drained ricotta, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme leaves, the salt, and a grinding of pepper; stir until blended. Mound into the center of a shallow bowl and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest and thyme on top. Garnish with the basil chiffonade.

3. Serve with crackers, crostini, or crudite.

Adapted from Fresh & Fast by Marie Simmons

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