I’ve never been a huge fan of ricotta, but last year, I tried making my own…and the homemade stuff is a totally different thing than the stuff you buy at the store. I have trouble putting this stuff in lasagna or shells or wherever else you typically stuff ricotta because it’s so tasty all by itself. I can’t believe I haven’t shared it here sooner. This really is so easy. I find myself increasingly keeping heavy cream on hand at home, and I’m not sure what that says about me. But it’s worth it just to be able to have homemade ricotta on hand nearly all the time!
Homemade herb ricotta
Adapted from Ina Garten (in an old Costco magazine – ha!)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh herbs or 2 tsp dried herbs – get creative here! My favorite fresh combinations are fresh chives and dill. Or maybe basil and lots of it. My favorite dried combinations are oregano and thyme. The possibilities are endless.
I use cheesecloth for this, but I’ve read about people just using a large clean dishcloth. I seem to have more luck with the cheesecloth. I just compost it when I’m finished so I don’t feel quite so wasteful. I set up the cheesecloth in a metal sieve over a large bowl. Pour the milk and cream into a stove pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally and staying close – you don’t want it to boil over. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Let the mixture set until it begins to curdle (just a minute or two). It will get a little chunky looking. Pour the mixture into your cheesecloth/sieve contraption and allow it to drain for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let it drain, the thicker the rciotta gets. The stuff that drains out is whey and it can be used for all sorts of things (we often just get lazy and add it to smoothies or to bread recipes in place of water to be honest). Once the ricotta is finished to your desired consistency, add the herbs and garlic and mix, just until barely combined.
I love this stuff on freshly baked bread as an appetizer or just a snack. It is to-die-for in lasagna or baked pasta recipes. It is so good on burgers or in scrambled eggs. What’s your favorite way to use ricotta?