As a general kitchen tip, you should always try to keep a tub of ricotta in your fridge. A 250g tub costs only a pound or so, and once you get used to having it around it will become one of your key all-rounders. Allow me to present the evidence.
Baked ricotta with new season asparagus
Rukmini Iyer understands that ricotta works as a star ingredient, as demonstrated by her recipe for baked ricotta with new season asparagus. Without the cheese, this is a fully acceptable roast potato and greens traybake. But dollop a tub of ricotta in the middle and suddenly it’s a party. Part centrepiece and part dip (for the asparagus), the ricotta brings everything together like a dream.
Courgette, tomato and ricotta salad
There’s also Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s recipe for courgette, tomato and ricotta salad. Inspired by a Turkish recipe for roasted vegetable and curd dip, this is at heart some roasted courgette and tomato, livened up with chilli flakes and mint. Again, perfectly acceptable – but throw half a tub of ricotta in at the end and you’ve got yourself a unified dish.
Spinach ricotta pancakes
As Nigel Slater well knows, adding a tub of ricotta to pancake batter elevates everything. There’s nothing wrong with a ricotta-less pancake, but put it next to a ricotta pancake and it’s like night and day; the latter is moist and fluffy, enough to border on soufflé territory. Slater utilises his ricotta pancakes for a main meal – filling them with parmesan and chopped herbs and serving them on spinach leaves – but it works just as well with breakfast or dessert pancakes.
Deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta and herbs
For a while, it was impossible to move for deep-fried courgette flowers. Luckily, though, the fad is now firmly in the rearview, which means we can again appreciate the deep-fried courgette flower for what it is – a ricotta delivery system. River Cottage’s recipe for deep-fried courgette flowers with ricotta and herbs is a banger; the ricotta is beaten soft and the batter is light and crispy.
Ricotta and basil crepe manicotti
Let’s round out the savoury portion of this list with the best ricotta dinner you could ever make: Delicious’s ricotta and basil crepe manicotti. It’s sort of a cheat’s lasagne, even though it probably requires more work than a lasagne and calling it that will probably get me banned from most of Italy. Anyway, you make a load of crepes, fill them with ricotta (you need a lot of it, by the way – four tubs), egg yolk and parmesan, roll them up and bake them with passata and mozzarella. Just glorious.
Ricotta and lemon ciambellone
Now, puddings. Ricotta work for cakes in the same way it does for pancakes, adding moisture and creaminess, especially when a recipe calls for minimal icing. Always add ricotta to bundts, for example, or Rachel Roddy’s ciambellone di ricotta e limon. A great, versatile, summery lemon ring cake, it derives all its might from the inclusion of a tub of ricotta. True, you could use yoghurt as a substitute, but why on earth would you do that?
Ricotta and canditi ice-cream
Know what else you can make with ricotta? Ice-cream. Better yet, you can make Kitty Travers’s ricotta and canditi ice-cream. There’s honey. There’s orange blossom water. There’s dark chocolate. There’s pistachio. There’s candied citrus peel. This recipe is everything that’s good about ice-cream, and for that we must thank the god of ricotta.
Baci di ricotta
Then again, if you’re making a pudding, a massive pile of Nigella Lawson’s baci di ricotta seems like a sensible option. They’re cute little deep-fried ricotta fritters, served warm and drenched in icing sugar. One batch makes 30 baci. You could probably eat them all yourself in one go, but that doesn’t mean you should.
Blackberry ricotta cheesecake
If you run outside right now, you’ll find plenty of bushes overloaded with sweet, ripe blackberries. Fill a bowl and then you can make Ruby Tandoh’s blackberry ricotta cheesecake. It’s a baked cheesecake, and I know people have opinions about those, but the blackberries go some way to reducing the recipe’s clag. Oh, and there’s half a kilo of ricotta in it. You’re welcome.
Chocolate orange ricotta trifle
Finally, trifle. Fine Cooking’s recipe for chocolate orange ricotta trifle is almost exactly what it sounds like. You’ve got cake, chocolate sauce, candied orange peel and an absolute ton of ricotta. It is delightful. Here ends my audition for the ricotta marketing board.