Soft, creamy and white, fresh and light – yes today it’s all about ricotta!
Are you looking for recipes with ricotta cheese – one of the most versatile dairy products of all time? Ricotta is smooth and creamy in texture and has a low salt content, making it the perfect ingredient in savoury and sweet dishes. From ricotta pancakes, delicious pasta dishes to irresistible cakes and desserts, Italian Spoon have the most mouth-watering recipes using ricotta.
Ricotta can be made from cow, sheep, goat or buffalo’s milk. In Italian cuisine, there is an unspoken rule that nothing should ever go to waste. Ricotta is actually a by-product of the cheesemaking process. It is produced by heating the whey proteins left over from the production of cheeses such as mozzarella, provolone and haloumi. The curd is cooked twice, hence the name ricotta, which means ‘re-cooked’ in Italian. How fantastic that Ricotta is made from something that would otherwise be wasted. Sometimes cheesemakers will add small amounts of milk but the secrets to create the perfect ricotta vary. The ricotta is then scooped up and poured into little sieves, which drain it of excess water and solidifies it further. Once drained, the ricotta is good to go.
Ricotta cheese is recognized as having been invented in Sicily. The increased production of rennet-coagulated cheese led to a large supply of whey. Cheese makers then developed a new recipe, using a mixture of the whey and added milk to make the traditional ricotta as it is known today. Ricotta was known as the ‘cheese of the poor’ given the nutritional value from the vitamins and minerals it contains at a low cost. Through trade and migration, ricotta made its way further into Italy, and by the height of the Holy Roman Empire, ricotta was widespread throughout Rome and beyond.
The type of milk used to produce ricotta varies with each region of Italy. Ricotta made from cow’s milk is the sweetest kind and available in many countries. I very am lucky to have my mother and her partner who own a cheese making business Nonna Sofia which is based in Melbourne, Australia producing the best Ricotta that I have tasted. In Southern Italy, ricotta made with sheep’s milk is a favourite – it has a higher fat percentage and therefore the richest and creamiest of the varieties. There are also regions where goat’s milk or buffalo milk is popular (e.g. Campania).
There are regional variations of ricotta that have been cooked even further for longer conservation such as:
Today ricotta is a favourite component of Italian cuisine, both for its versatility and nutritional value. You can use ricotta to for appetizers, ‘torte salate’ (savory pies), in first courses such as pasta or lasagne and in main courses. You can incorporate ricotta into many desserts which will help to keep them lovely and moist or eat it straight from the tub – I sure do! I especially love warm (freshly made) ricotta on crusty bread – if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out! In Italy, desserts made using ricotta are particularly popular around Easter time but welcome to the table in every season. If you have a sweet tooth like us, ricotta has a mild, neutral flavour and provides the right creaminess to create delicious and irresistible cakes and desserts.
Here are our Top 10 authentic Italian ricotta recipes that will make you fall in love with ricotta:
Fall in love with our Top 10 authentic Italian Ricotta cheese recipes blog authored by Vanessa Bottaro.