Tuesday, February 18, 2014

QUICK HOMEMADE RICOTTA + A LEMONY GARDEN PASTA

I hear the old lock click as the gate to our backyard squeaks open. Footsteps cross the gravel. The garage door springs open wide as Otis tucks his bike away for the afternoon. Backpack strapped on, my thirteen year old marches through the back door chittering and chattering about his life. I especially love it when the first words from his mouth spill out stories about what they cooked in Kitchen that day.

Otis's after-school tales seem to begin mid sentence, as if he is simply continuing our conversation left dangling that morning. It usually takes me a minute of two before I get the gist of what he's telling me, "...food science...heat and acid...so easy..." When I finally realize that Otis and his classmates had made ricotta that day and that he wanted to make it with me, "Of course, I'd love to!" I answer and we make ricotta right then and there.

Otis and I first made ricotta together a month or so ago and he was right - it is ridiculously easy to make and totally empowering for any do-it-yourselfer. Have you made your own ricotta? I'm guessing a lot of you have, but for those of you who haven't...you must give it a go!

QUICK RICOTTA inspired by the Edible Schoolyard
printable recipe
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pour milk into a non-reactive saucepan. Add a pinch of sea salt. Bring milk to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scalding. When the milk comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir very gently until curdles begin to separate (this should take less than a minute). Let the milk mixture sit in the pan for 5 minutes.

Finally, pour your milky mixture (curds and whey) through a cheesecloth stretched over the top of a bowl. Discard the excess liquid. (Save the liquid (whey) to use in your next batch of porridge, smoothie, biscuits, pancakes, etc... or if you're like my friend Margi, you can take a bath in the stuff;))

You can serve the ricotta immediately or let it continue to strain for up to an hour depending on how dry you like your ricotta.


That's it. Ricotta done!

There are all sort of wonderful resources for making ricotta.  If you want to read more, check here, here and here...
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LEMONY GARDEN PASTA WITH FRESH RICOTTA
printable recipe

We were in Bolinas staying at my mom's over the long weekend and Otis and I made another batch of ricotta yesterday morning. I decided to make an early lunch putting our fresh cheese to good use. Mom had broccoli sprouting in her garden, lemons finally ripening on her tree, and we had ricotta.... a bright, lemony veggie pasta seemed the thing.
  • 6 loosely packed cups broccoli florets (I think asparagus could be wonderful in this pasta in the spring time)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil + a drizzle for serving
  • sea salt
  • 1 package dry pasta of your choice {GF folks: I used Bionaturae spaghetti}
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • handful toasted pine nuts
  • ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes 
  • fresh ricotta (see recipe above)
  • optional: broccoli blossoms
Heat pasta water in a large stockpot. Add plenty of salt until it tastes like sea water.

Blanch your broccoli florets in the hot pasta water. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vibrant, tender veg and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Toss broccoli with 1/3 cup olive oil and salt generously to taste. Set aside.

Return the water to a boil and cook the pasta until tender. While pasta is cooking, zest and juice lemons and set aside.

Add pasta to the broccoli florets, toss and immediately add pine nuts, lemon zest and juice to the mix. Season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. If you think it needs it, add a little more lemon juice. Give the whole thing a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, if you like a little spice. Finally scatter fresh ricotta onto the pasta and give the whole dish another drizzling of olive oil. Add a few broccoli blossoms if you've got them.

Serve pasta warm or at room temp.

Feeds 4.

55 comments:

  1. I love homemade ricotta - nothing really compares to it does it? This pasta looks like it really shows off the ricotta at its very best. It's so light and fresh!

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    1. Kathryn, why has it taken me so long to make fresh ricotta?!? It's so delectable and remarkably easy... Well, now I know;)
      xoxo
      E

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  2. This meal looks fabulous - I love that homemade ricotta!

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  3. Lovely clicks and pasta dish! I love homemade ricotta.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. The enthusiasm of kids is so inspiring to me. How fun that your son wanted to make homemade ricotta with you! Looks delicious!

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    1. Jess, so true! Being with kids in the kitchen always makes me happy and when Otis or Lilah actually starts the cooking project himself/herself, how can I resist?

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  5. I have made my own ricotta and I absolutely loved it. There is a sense of accomplishment when you make your own cheese, isn't there, even if it is of the simplest varieties. It must be really fun to cook with your son. :)
    I'm so happy to hear you are going to visit Greece again this summer, Erin. Folegandros is such a beautiful island. I hope you have the best time!!

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    1. Magda, making ricotta really is satisfying isn't it? The magic of simple food chemistry at work:)
      We can't wait for Folegandros... we love it so much that we never even venture anywhere else. It feels like our home away.
      xoxo to you,
      E

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  6. Erin that looks amazing. I love adding zest to pasta dishes too, makes them so bright and adds a lightness. Sounds like you all had such a nice time in Bolinas. I've only been there a handful of times but adored it. I love the photographs and how you added the extra flowers on top. Have you ever thought about teaching a food styling/photo workshop? I'd be the first one to sign up! xoa

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    Replies
    1. Ashley, I'm a fiend for citrus zest....it seems to make everything better;) And I love to add blossoms whenever we've got some sprouting.
      I've never thought to teach a food styling/photo class... maybe that's something to think about doing in LA this fall - wouldn't that be fun! Maybe you and I should brainstorm sometime?
      xoxo
      E

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  7. I've always wanted to try making my own ricotta. Everyone says how easy it is and how much creamier homemade is. I think you've spurred me to finally do it. The pasta looks like sunshine in winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carolyn, I can't believe it took me so long either! Making ricotta is crazy easy and so good. If you want extra creamy, you may even want to try adding a little heavy cream to the mix. I'm going to try that next time.
      xo
      E

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  8. I love that you made your own ricotta. I have long had on my cooking bucket list to make cheese - this just might have to kick it off. Like you, I love lemon so anything with it - I am a complete fan. Although, I must admit the one and only veggie I don't eat is broccoli, I would simply add another veggie and make this pasta. Hope your week is filled with great food, fun and laughter! Lisa

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    Replies
    1. Lisa, ricotta is a good place to start, I think. And mozzarella is another easy one. I'm like you... I like to ease into it.
      Have a great week yourself, Lisa:)
      xoxo
      E

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  9. Wow - gorgeous photos! Yummy indead! I will definately make my own ricotta. Thank you for sharing this. – Christine

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Christine! I'd love to hear how the ricotta goes for you:)

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  10. I feel cheated that I didn't know how to make ricotta early on. Now I have to pass it on to friends. Looks so delicious and you can use it in so many things.

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    Replies
    1. Oh no Oli! I know that feeling about foods I've had to leave behind.
      I hope you and your family are well! xoxo
      E

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  11. Wow! This sounds so easy. I am going to try and make this today or tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Cheri, I hope you enjoy! Let me know how it goes for you.
      xo
      E

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  12. I"ve never made ricotta either! Sounds so simple, fun and a joy that this came from your 13yr old son! A great use for homegrown lemons (we have them too!)

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    Replies
    1. Ceri, it's crazy easy with this technique. Milk, lemons and heat... that's all.
      Safe travels to you!
      xo
      E

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  13. Love your blog, Erin! Your photos are amazing. love, Cynna

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    Replies
    1. Cynna, you are so cute with your sappy mom moniker. Great to hear from you here, especially now that you are a fellow blogger;)
      xoxo

      Delete
  14. Yum, ricotta! I've been experimenting with my own cheese and yoghurt recently - only worth it if you can get amazing milk but if you can, so so good. Gorgeous photos, as always :-)

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    Replies
    1. So true Kate. It's ALL about the ingredients....with good creamy milk and fresh garden lemons, you can't go too wrong:)

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  15. This is just the kick in the pants I need to make my own ricotta!

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    Replies
    1. Happy to be that kick, Katie:)

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  16. How lucky for your son to be able to attend that wonderful school in Berkeley! I visit it every time I take a walk in N. Berkeley. It didn't exist when my kids were in school so they learned to cook by working after school at Chez Panisse and The Pig by the Tail Charcuterie.
    Can't wait to try the ricotta and that lovely pasta.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Otis is a lucky guy - I only wish every kid got to go to King.
      And we love to walk through the garden too. It always makes me happy.
      Your kids sound super lucky...I want to work after school at Chez Panisse and Pig by the Tail;)
      -E

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  17. Lovely but DON'T throw out the whey !! It has all the B vitamins and goodies in it. Use it to make soup and bread and smoothies...you name it. Anything that calls for liquid is better with whey :) Just found your blog and love it.

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    Replies
    1. Caroline, thanks for the whey tip! I'm a newbie to ricotta making so this is great to know:)

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  18. Hello, Erin! I honestly didn't know you could make your own ricotta ... duh! I'm so impressed and if I didn't have to go to work this morning I would probably jump into the kitchen and start making some!! Where did you find the cheesecloth by the way?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Helen, I love such revelations in the kitchen! It's so empowering to make something yourself, isn't it?
      I've bought cheese cloth at my local hardware store and at Sur La Table. Hopefully it won't be too hard for you to find:)
      -E

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  19. Hi Erin!
    Your blog page is quite amazing with all those delicious recipes. This is the second time we contact you about your blog and this is just a followup. If this message disturbs you, I apologize. I will make sure that this would be my last message that regards to our project.
    We launched a new search engine for recipes myTaste where we gather recipes from food blogs and websites. It’s a social platform where users can create cookbooks and save their favorite recipes. For bloggers we have a special section Top Food Blogs where you can register your blog and get more visibility and traffic via myTaste!! For any questions or doubt you can check FAQ or e-mail me. Thank you so much for your time, hope to see you in our big family!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your note. I'll pop over and check out your project.

      Delete
  20. I love to make ricotta. It's one of those things that when you realize how easy it is to make, you are wondering how you didn't discover it before! Much cheaper and tastier too! The pasta looks lovely! Hugs!

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    1. So true Najwa! Homemade ricotta is so good, quick and cheap. A no-brainer, really:)
      xoxo
      E

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  21. Oh you photographed this pasta so beautifully! The story about your son is way too cute. Such a special thing to make ricotta together, and I love his enthusiasm! I have strong memories of cooking with my mom as a kid. It helped shape my eating habits, my love of entertaining, my foundation of cooking knowledge. Ricotta is simple to make and seems so elegant. It's rewarding -- great way to start him off :) Sweet story!

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    1. I'm with you... some of my best childhood memories are of times I spent in the kitchen cooking with my parents!
      I love it so much when Otis or Lilah wants to be in the kitchen with us that I try to play it cool -you know... be available but not overly eager;) Truth is, they are totally on to me and know just how happy it makes me when they want to cook.
      I only hope that food and cooking bring them as much happiness in their lives as it has in ours.
      xoxo
      E

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  22. Erin, ricotta has been on my must-make list forever! Thanks for the nudge to get going already. Have a great weekend :)

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  23. Renee, I was the same way... Ricotta was long on my list, but somehow I never got to it until Otis came home inspired. Glad to share the nudge with you;)
    xoxo
    E

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  24. Your boy sounds like such a gem of a person! I bet you are a fantastic mom, Erin. xo

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  25. I have to say... he is a really nice boy. I'm a lucky mama!
    xoxo to you Emma,
    E

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  26. Discard the excess liquid....
    hi dear- check out what to do with whey... it is like gold. last time i took a bath in it!
    thank you as always for your beautiful work.

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    1. Margi! Thank you for the kick in the pants about not discarding the whey. I'm going to change that in my recipe right now and next batch of ricotta, I'll put that whey to good use:)
      xoxo E

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  27. It's been way too long since I last made ricotta. It's so delicious when it's just made, still a little warm. The pasta looks like a fantastic way to use it too. I need to go buy some milk!

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    1. Hey there Lisa! I'm with you ~ eating the just-made warm ricotta...Heaven! xoxox

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  28. Hi Erin,
    This might be the first time EVER that I really impressed my Italian super amazing cook husband...The whole meal he kept just saying "I can't believe you MADE the ricotta...I just can't believe it!". Thanks for giving me some new found Kitchen cred! Xox Shawn

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    1. Shawn! Seeing your comment here first thing this morning made my day!!! I'm so glad the ricotta worked out for you and impressed Bob - I can imagine he's a tough audience to please;)
      You've totally been on my mind lately. I use my little gold Shawn Burke bag every day and it always makes me happy.
      xoxo
      E

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  29. I never try making homemade cheese before, it seem not difficult. I like the pasta really much, guess adding red pepper flakes is a good idea. But probably I like to add some meat, like shrimp or beef. :)

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  30. omg. i love that you mention margi's bath.

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    1. Yep;) Margi commented about saving the whey, so I had to add her to the story!
      xoxo

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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