Simple Holiday Ricotta hors d'oeuvres
All of these can be served "as is" or baked! The quality of the ricotta is very important. I use Liuzzi Imported ricotta and can be found at D&D Italian Market in Hartford. Many supermarket ricottas are grainy or gummy and have little flavor.
Ricotta, Fig Jam & Pine Nut Spread (yield 1 ¼ cups)
1 cup Liuzzi Ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated coarse black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 tablespoons fig jam (can be found at D&D Market in Hartford)
1 ½ tablespoons chopped pine nuts
olive oil if baking
Mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, black pepper and salt. Taste for seasoning. Oil the baking dish. Add the ricotta mixture and spread flat. Spread the fig jam on top and sprinkle with the pine nuts. If serving unbaked, run the finished dish under the broiler to toast the pine nuts or bake at 425 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until bubbly. Run under the broiler for a few seconds to toast the nuts.
Ricotta & Artichoke Dip (Yield 1 ½ cups)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and some to oil the baking dish
1 cup Liuzzi Ricotta
1 (14-oz) can artichokes in water, not oil
1 medium garlic clove (1 teaspoon minced)
2 tablespoons imported grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
Sprinkle of paprika
Oil the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Drain the artichokes well and chop. Heat 1 tablespoon in a non-stick sauté pan. Add the chopped artichokes and sauté for about 5 minutes or until much of the liquid has evaporated and they are just beginning to brown. Add the minced garlic and sauté for one minute more. In a mixing bowl, combine the artichokes, ricotta and Romano cheese. Add the cayenne pepper to taste. Taste for salt and adjust seasonings if necessary. Spread the mixture into the baking or serving dish. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top and sprinkle lightly with paprika. Serve as is or bake.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees or until beginning to brown around the edges and hot throughout.
**NOTES: Baking dishes can be a 1 ½ -2 cup ramekin, , individual casserole dish or an earthenware baking dish. The baking time depends on the thickness of the ricotta. If spread out in an open dish it will take less time. Warning - Do not eat while bubbling hot as it will burn your mouth. Serve all dishes on baguette slices, crackers, celery or endive.
5-minute Ricotta-Oregano Spread
Mix together 1 cup Liuzzi Ricotta, 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, ½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top.