Ricotta is something I try to have in my fridge at all times. It is perfect for stirring into pasta sauces or risottos, enjoying on toast with pesto or chilli jam, and also makes a super quick and impressive homemade ice cream (which I'll share at some point). One of my favourite ways to enjoy ricotta though is this way - baked with herbs, chilli and lemon. It's SO good.
This makes a wonderful dip for fresh crusty bread, vegetable crudités, oatcakes, crackers or any other dip vehicle you can think of! Lovely as part of a drinks party spread too.
Easy baked ricotta
1 x 250g tub ricotta cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon mixed herbs (or Herbs de Provence, or any other dried green herb you like)
1-2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes (depending how hot they are and how you like it)
1-2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper
A drizzle of olive oil
Fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme or basil, finely chopped, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
The ricotta you can buy here in British supermarkets is quite firm, so what I do is unmould the ricotta from the tub on to the baking paper on the tray - if you turn it upside down and squeeze the sides of the tub gently, normally this happens very easily and it just comes away in one piece. It should sit there proudly on the paper. If this doesn't happen, don't despair - as you can see from the picture, mine didn't unmould perfectly but you can always put it together. If the ricotta isn't very firm and just collapses on you, then just scoop it into a few ramekins or a baking dish. As Julia Child would say, never explain, never apologise!
The next step couldn't be easier - sprinkle all the condiments on top of the ricotta with some artistic flourish. Add as much or as little as you like to your taste. The great thing is that all the suggested condiments are interchangeable depending on what you have and what combinations you enjoy - I have some lovely dried herb and chilli mixes I've brought back from trips to Italy and Switzerland, and I find this is an ideal place to use these.
Once you're happy, drizzle the top lightly with the honey and olive oil. Place in the hot oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
Let it cool slightly before sprinkling with the fresh herbs (if using) and serve with bread, crackers or another crudite of your choice.
If there are any leftovers, this is wonderful for brunch the next day on toast, or you can stir it into a risotto or pasta sauce.