November 29, 2022

Irkaimboeuf

Food never sleeps.

summer ricotta with grilled vegetables – smitten kitchen

5 min read

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Letter of recommendation: Make ricotta this summer. I was originally going to write “Ditch the burrata and make some ricotta this summer,” but neither wish to besmirch burrata nor do I plan to go tomato season without it. Should a burrata tree (it grows on trees, or must based on the frequency in which it appears) spontaneously appear on my terrace, I will be the happiest and most popular girl in all of the Lower East Side this summer. But since like most of us, I’m still buying it at stores where it’s quite expensive, spoils quickly, and is only sometimes spectacular, I’m here to make the argument that homemade ricotta is not only rich, delicious, and a cinch to make, but that in almost all of the places we’re serving burrata, ricotta* would be deliciously welcome too.

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Plus, it’s an incredible potuck addition or host gift, and you get to feel absolutely triumphant in pulling it off. As someone who does not have a, say, covetable summer pad (no pool or big yard for grilling), we spend a lot of time heading to other’s homes for gatherings which means always transporting something good to share, and because it’s, ahem, me, it’s homemade. Enter: ricotta. From a storebought tub, it’s unspectacular. Homemade? Luxurious. It’s blissful spread on toasted bread, drizzled with olive oil, and finished with flaky salt. You could even add a drizzle of honey or balsamic, if either are your thing. But with a few additions — fresh tomatoes or any vegetable in season, thinly sliced and grilled to heap on top, plus grilled bread — it’s even more special, the appetizer (or light lunch) platter of my summer dreams.

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[* “But doesn’t burrata contain ricotta?” is a valid question and the answer is that it often does, but not when it’s very good. Burrata is a cow milk cheese from Apulia made with a thin outer layer of mozzarella which is filled with stracciatella. Stracciatella in this case are shreds of fresh mozzarella, usually leftover from mozzarella-making, soaked in cream. Good burrata, burrata filled with these creamy shreds, is otherworldly. But very often it’s filled with just ricotta, while delicious, is not nearly as special or worthy of the price tag and you do not always know what you’re getting until you open it. Thank you for coming to my Deb Talk.]

Previously

6 months ago: Checkerboard Cookies and Short Rib Onion Soup
1 year ago: Perfect, Forever Cornbread
2 years ago: Beach Bean Salad
3 year ago: Raspberry Crumble Tart Bars
4 years ago: Ice Cream Cake Roll
5 years ago: Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake and Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad
6 years ago: Almond-Rhubarb Picnic Bars
7 years ago: Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, Fake Shack Burger, and Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles
8 years ago: Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
9 years ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano and Two Classic Sangrias
10 years ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice and Tzatziki Potato Salad
11 years ago: Classic Cobb Salad, Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits
12 years ago: Asparagus, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
13 years ago: Martha’s Mac-and-Cheese, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
14 years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
15 years ago: Homemade Oreos and Cellophane Noodle and Roast Pork Salad

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Summer Ricotta with Grilled Vegetables

As shown, this feeds four people for appetizers, but it’s easily doubled or tripled. This is not authentic ricotta, which isn’t made with milk or cream, but with the whey byproduct from cheesemaking. This is a slightly updated version of my 2011 Rich Homemade Ricotta; I use less cream these days but love the extra softness and luxury that even a smaller amount provides. Shown here are a mix of the vegetables that looked good at the market on Monday — some spring red onions, small summer squash, and fresh peas in their pods — but almost any vegetable you like will work grilled or roasted here.
    Ricotta
  • 4 cups (910 grams) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • To Serve
  • 1 pound (455 grams) mixed summer vegetables, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices from a large sourdough loaf
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
Make the ricotta: Line a fine-mesh or other tiny-holed strainer with a layer or two of cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl with enough clearance that the bottom of the strainer won’t touch the bowl once it has 4 cups of liquid in it, or the cheese won’t drain. In a heavy medium-large saucepan, heat the milk, cream, and salt over medium-high heat until just below a simmer — it will look like it’s foaming and register just below 200°F. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in lemon juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then pour it through the cheesecloth. Drain for 10 minutes, or until it’s a nice soft ricotta consistency, and up to 10 minutes longer if needed. [The amount of time it takes to drain has to do with the size of your cheesecloth holes.] Transfer ricotta to a bowl to serve. Drizzle with olive oil, and finish with salt and pepper.

Grill the bread and vegetables: Brush or drizzle your vegetables and bread with olive oil. I grill my vegetables, even small ones, directly on my grill grates at fairly high heat but I know there are baskets that might lead to fewer falling in, I’m just stubborn. Grill the vegetables, bread, and lemon halves until they’re lightly charred underneath (depending on how robust your grill is, this could take 2 to 6 minutes), then flip the vegetables and bread and cook on the second side. Season with the vegetables with salt and pepper and transfer everything to a serving platter.

Serve: Right before serving, drizzle everything with additional olive oil, squeeze at least one lemon half over the vegetables (leave the second half on the platter), and season with additional salt and pepper. You could also drizzle some balsamic vinegar over, or keep it on the side.

Do ahead: Leftover ricotta is not a thing that exists, but it theoretically keeps for 3 days in the fridge.

A few items I’m using here: Reusable cheesecloth, which I even run through the washing machine, this glass pot, this little burner, and this oval platter.

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