Homemade Ricotta + Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta + Ricotta Dip

homemade ricotta

Strudel For this month’s theme, I’d originally planned on making a different recipe, and was trying to figure out when I’d have time to do it. I was getting stressed realizing how limited my time was this week… which, you know, is a bit opposite of the purpose of the “it’s better to make it yourself!” theme. I just don’t think it’s really great to make things yourself if the making leads to anxiety.

 

Oddly, though, at the same time as I was fussing over when the hell I’d find time for this week’s post, I realized that (duh) I was plotting to make homemade ricotta cheese for a dinner party we were having on Saturday night. I’d made it once before – many years ago – and remembered homemade ricotta is wildly easy and crazy delicious – creamy, rich, and the slightest bit tangy. There’s a ton of recipes online, but I went with my tried, true and very favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen.

 

Once I made the ricotta, I used it two ways – one in a recipe for zucchini stuffed with ricotta and a few veggies, and another for a delicious dip for veggies. Both are SO GOOD and were perfect appetizers!

 

Here’s the zucchini:

 

zucchini bites

 

 

And the dip:

 

ricotta dip

 

 

The ricotta recipe is crazy easy – the hands on time is about 10 minutes, tops, and is absolutely worth it, every time!

 

Homemade Ricotta

by Smitten Kitchen

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190°F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

 

Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta

slightly altered from Saveur

 

5 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped

1 cups homemade or store-bought ricotta

1/2 cup grated pecorino

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

3 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano

1 egg yolks, beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard pulp from each zucchini half, leaving a 14” rim around the edges. Heat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

 

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the pecorino, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, the parsley, mint, oregano, and egg yolk. Fold in the onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside.

 

Arrange an oven rack about 7″ from the broiler element and heat. Bruch the insides of the zucchini with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and season lightly with salt. Place zucchini cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and fill each zucchini half with enough of the ricotta mixture that it mounds slightly but doesn’t spill over the edges of the zucchini. Sprinkle each stuffed zucchini with the remaining pecorino and bread crumbs. Broil until the zucchini are soft and the tops are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.

 

Once cooled slightly, cut into bite-sized pieces and serve.

 

Ricotta Dip for Vegetables

recipe slightly altered from Food Network

 

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 cup homemade ricotta
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, chill before serving. Serve with veggies such as baby carrots, broccoli, and strips of bell peppers.

 

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