homemade ricotta

homemade ricotta cheese

The first time I considered making cheese at home – then actually said those words out loud – Alan looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, “Sounds good, honey”. That’s code for: Should I make reservations, just in case?

It’s not that he doesn’t trust my cooking skills, and in his defense there have been too many times to count one or two times when we’ve had to use those reservations because one of my “experiments” went awry. Cheese-making sounds daunting enough that there might be a smidge of a chance it could possibly fall into that category. I certainly had my doubts.

The thing is, I never really cared much for ricotta cheese. The only time I ever used it was if I was making a lasagna, and even then I sought out only the best local brands. I’d heard the legend of homemade ricotta, heard others claim that it’s worth the small amount of effort (David Lebovitz and Deb Perelman come to mind) but it surely had to be a myth?

The first time I put my milk, cream & salt in a pot I was pretty sure I’d end up with nothing more than hot milk, cream & salt. Then it boiled, I added some lemon juice and watched it turn into something that I was certain I’d be dumping down the drain. Even as I poured it into the cheesecloth I thought it can’t be this easy. But as the whey drained off and only silky, creamy curds remained…I realized that I’d been wasting countless years hunting down a better ricotta when it was right here in my own kitchen the entire time!

Once you try warm, fresh ricotta you’ll never, ever buy it again.

So far, my favorite way to enjoy it is to add some lemon zest & freshly ground black pepper, spread it on crostini and drizzle with a good olive oil. It’s so simple yet so luxurious {in a way that only making your own cheese can be}. It’s wonderful tossed with fresh pasta or spread on puff pastry with fresh vegetables. Here are a few more delicious ideas:

  • use it in pancakes or baked goods
  • add to mac ‘n cheese
  • drizzle with honey and fresh figs
  • use in a grilled cheese
  • ricotta gnocchi!
  • ricotta pie!
  • ricotta cheesecake!
  • use to stuff squash blossoms
  • put it on crostini with just about everything {a smidge of raspberry jam & black pepper}
  • add it to quiche to make it extra creamy
  • a creamy way to stuff zucchini or portobello mushrooms

I’ve even made a quick five-minute lunch using angel hair bird’s nests and pesto:

pasta with ricotta and pesto

Do you have a favorite way you like to use ricotta? Let me know in the comments below!