What is ricotta?
Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese. Cow, sheep and even buffalo milk can become ricotta.
The name translates as re-boiled. Slightly acidic whey is boiled in order to form curds. The following filtering gives us ricotta cheese.
Once poured in perforated containers the cheese slowly loses liquid. The longer it sit, the drier it get.
Very versatile indeed
The absence of an outspoken taste makes ricotta even more interesting. It is ideal to give creaminess to a preparation.
The presence of ricotta is welcome. This cheese does not cover other tastes. It adds freshness, authenticity and sincerity to preparations.
Which doesn’t mean you cannot eat it as it comes. Spooning fresh, slightly warm, ricotta is a treat.
Add a couple of spoons of ricotta to tomato sauce. Or to other condiments therefor. Some do not even mix it but have it straight on pasta.
This cheese is often part of fillings. Together with breadcrumb, eggs and herbs. And you are ready to fill peppers, zucchini or other vegetables.
Exquisite but a trifle more complicated are ‘polpette’. A superstar for your aperitivo.
Two of Sicily’s renowned desserts use this cheese. The cannolo and cassata. In both cases ricotta is well drained and sweetened.
Cannolo has a weak point. It mustn’t get soggy. Therefor buy them fresh. Or fill them just before serving.
Sweetened it can be frozen. A recent discovery that lengthened shelf life considerably.
Some of the ricotta is salted and left to dry. Preferably outside. The cheese dries and becomes hard. Ready to grate. Pasta all Norma cannot live without.
There is an oven-baked version. The smokiness is interesting. But its use is troublesome. To be tried though.
Not cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is usually lumpier. And often it contains extra cream.
In general both cheeses are interchangeable. Especially when bought in a supermarket.