Ricotta: The softer side

Ricotta Fritta Pizza January 2013Ricotta is one of the most versatile cheeses that is so abundantly available and incredibly easy to use. if you’re not taking advantage of ricotta and its many uses, it’s time to give it a serious look. Over the years through the magazine, Pizza Today web site and Pizza expo, I’ve shown more than a dozen different ways to use ricotta and today I’ll take you on yet another culinary expedition to explore even more creative ways to use this smooth and sultry cheese. here are some quick and easy uses:

Ricotta gnocchi are fun and easy to make. by making ricotta gnocchi, you eliminate need to boil, peel and rice potatoes, which takes time, space and energy. Ricotta gnocchi dough literally takes about two minutes, at most, to mix. roll out the dough, cut them into pieces and drop them in salted boiling water for about three minutes and you are ready to sauce them in the 100 different ways they can be sauced.

Consider using a super fine and smooth impastata-style ricotta for your house-made tiramisu, instead of the traditional mascarpone, which is not always easy to find and when you do it’s quite expensive in comparison to ricotta.

One of the first uses for ricotta that comes to mind is making your own cannoli cream. it takes under a minute to mix up and is better than anything you’ll ever buy. Use impastata-style ricotta, powdered sugar and almond extract.

Create a super-rich ricotta-based alfredo sauce using ricotta, cream, garlic and Parmesan with some cracked black pepper and salt. it is about as luxurious as you’ll get (unless you add some chunks of lobster meat, of course).

For breakfast you can mix some ricotta with an egg and a pinch of sugar and roll that filling into a crepe. Fold in the sides and roll it up and you now have a cheese blintz, which can be pan fried and topped with all kinds of fruit compotes.

Ricotta can be used in calzones and even on pizza. A small amount of ricotta can be the main ingredient in a calzone, but I like to marry other ingredients, which generally come from your pizza toppings. white pizza has many different angles and definitions depending on whose restaurant and region you are in. Sometimes a white pizza means there is no sauce whatsoever. other times, it means that there is just a little olive oil instead of sauce.

One more version of a white pizza has some ricotta cheese smoothed out over the crust then topped with the customer’s choice. and ricotta can be used as a mozzarella substitute by dropping spoonfuls of it onto the pizza and bake as normal.

Ricotta Fritta Pizza

Dough ball
¾ cup of superfine ricotta
3 eggs
¼ cup Parmesan
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon granular garlic
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces diced ham
3 ounces diced roasted red pepper
4 ounces chopped cooked spinach
4 ounces shredded or diced mozzarella provolone blend

Stretch the dough onto or into a 14-inch screen or pan. Make sure you leave a little bit of an edge to this so the mixture doesn’t spill out while baking.

Mix the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, spinach, roasted peppers and ham together with the salt, pepper and garlic. Pour it onto the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella and provolone over the top. You’ll notice that this is much less cheese than a regular pizza (and that’s how I like it since there is ricotta in the filling already).

Bake as you would normally bake a pizza and serve as soon as it comes out. You’ll notice this pizza resemble the flavor of a good quiche.

Jeff Freehof owns The garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia. he is a frequent contributor to Pizza Today and a speaker at the Pizza Expo family of trade shows.

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