Ricotta is often used as an ingredient, but good ricotta is delicious as a spread. The tubs at the grocery store have nothing on what you can make in your own kitchen in about fifteen minutes of active time. Ricotta and even Almond Ricotta making is a super simple project that only seems daunting. Watch me make it here. You’ve got this.
Makes 1 cup
2 hours, 15 minutes active time
Make it richer by replacing up to one cup of the milk with cream. Spread on toast and serve with barely cooked vegetables (the Broiled Lemon Asparagus from the SPRING 20/20 Sampler would be awesome), or berries and sliced stone fruit that is just now coming on. Drizzle it with honey and it’s a fantastic anytime feast. Do yourself a favor and double the batch, I almost always do.
4 cups whole milk
1 lemon, juiced (at least 3 Tablespoons of juice)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Add the milk to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Warm the milk until it begins to hiss and bubble around the edges (about 190-195) degrees. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon and salt with a little stir, and then let the pot sit undisturbed for five minutes. The milk proteins with cluster into curds and leave a thinned, yellow-tinged liquid behind. (This is the whey.) Using a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a large bowl, pour the curdled mixture through, separating the curds from the whey. Allow the ricotta to drain like this for an hour. If you’d like it drained further, after an hour pull the sides of the cloth up around the lump of cheese and secure it with a rubber band, and hang to further drip dry (I hook it around the faucet). Discard the whey or set it aside for another use (see bonus points). Once ricotta is drained to your liking, place in lidded dish and keep refrigerated.
- Pizza Bianca (or Toast)– Spread the dough with ¼” ricotta cheese (mix minced garlic or herbs into cheese if you like). Salt and pepper. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 550 degrees (the toaster oven works great for the toast version). Check the pizza if the crust is crisp and the cheese is just barely starting to turn golden, sprinkle a healthy handful of torn greens (arugula, spinach, baby kale or chard) over the top and return to the oven for just one minute to wilt. Remove and serve.
- Whey is the byproduct of cheesemaking but it doesn’t have to be a waste product- it is nutrient dense (you’ve seen the jumbo jars of whey powder for sale) and good stuff in the kitchen. Use it as you would use water or buttermilk in baking. Or let someone else enjoy it, most dogs and cats love the stuff if you offer it to them.
Makes 2 cups
5 hours, 35 minutes active time
Almond ricotta is the dreamiest non-dairy cheese. It’s light and rich and filling. If you’ve dropped dairy or you really love almonds, this recipe is for you. You can bake and serve it like regular dairy ricotta. I love it with a smash up of herbs or a drizzle of honey or a plop of jam, just like the traditional recipe above, and don’t miss out on the Pizza Bianca with almond ricotta, that’s nice too (especially with the minced garlic in the cheese).
Don’t be deterred by the acidophilus. It’s the live bacteria in good yogurt, which you can also buy in capsules most health food geared grocery stores or pharmacies. They’re like manna for my gut when I travel and eat the world. But, if that’s out in left field and you’re about to click away from this page saying I can’t find or use that, wait! I’ve got substitutions. See the bonus points below.
2 cups almonds
1 cup filtered water
⅓ teaspoon acidophilus (5 capsules)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pour hot water over the almonds and let them soak for at least four hours (and up to twenty-four). Slip the skins off the almonds, pinching them from the pointy end to pop them out of their jackets. If they are not budging, simply heat the almonds in the soaking liquid for one minute in the microwave or stove and they’ll pop right out. Once the almonds are skinned, add them to the blender with the water, acidophilus, and sea salt. Blend (or use a food processor) until the ingredients form a fluffy white cloud of cheese (it will take a few minutes to get all the lumps out). Scrape the almond ricotta from the blender and into a lined strainer to drain for about an hour. Store in a lidded container in the fridge.
- Swap the acidophilus for ½ cup of almond milk yogurt or the juice of one lemon.
- Use blanched almond in place of the whole almonds and save time by not skinning them, but you still need to soak them to make ricotta, if not you’ll be making almond butter.
Want more easy to follow seasonal recipes? Check out the SPRING 20/20.