I’m smitten. Cheese. Bread. Roasted Tomatoes. I had a variation of this dish as an appetizer in a restaurant last week, and as I was eating it, all I could think was, why does ricotta cheese only get used in lasagna and Italian desserts? And why, oh why, have I never thought to bake it before? The only time I actually pick up a container of ricotta is when I think it’s sour cream, and I grab it by mistake. What is wrong with me?
True, it’s a pretty bland tasting cheese, but that actually makes it the perfect partner for SO many different flavors. Like lemon zest and fresh thyme. Or garlic and rosemary. Or just fresh herbs and olive oil. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! Yes, I’m screaming at you.
The next time you have guests and you plan to do the cheese and vegetable platter, please think of baked ricotta instead. It’s creamy, silky, warm and luscious and it absolutely tastes like you spent hours, when in reality you mixed up some ricotta with a handful of herbs and baked it. No one needs to know. Really. Add the caramelized tomatoes, and your guests will think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Or Italy.
I hate to admit it, but the night I made this, I had this with a glass of wine for dinner. Just like you see it here. And that’s it. Because, baked cheese.
Baked Ricotta with Caramelized Tomatoes
- 1-8 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup loosely packed mixed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, or any combination), minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- olive oil for drizzling
- 1-12 inch baguette, warmed and sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup white wine
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped basil and parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place the ricotta cheese in a colander lined with a cheese cloth and let drain for about 30 minutes to remove any excess water.
Place the drained cheese in a mixing bowl and add minced herbs and garlic clove. Stir well to combine
Transfer cheese mixture to a ramekin or baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is light golden brown.
Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. If desired, drizzle with about 1 teaspoon olive oil.
Serve on slices of french bread baguette.
While cheese is draining, place the 3 tablespoons oil in a salute pan on medium-high heat. Add the 2-3 cloves of garlic (to taste), plus the tomatoes and sauté until tomatoes begin to soften. Stir frequently,and reduce heat if necessary if garlic starts to get to dark. Do not let it burn.
Reduce heat to medium and add wine, red pepper flakes and salt.
Stir to deglaze the pan.
Cover, and let tomatoes cook until they are mostly broken down and brown in spots. Add the minced basil and parsley and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and set aside until cheese is ready to serve.
Spread the warm baked ricotta on the bread slices, and top with tomatoes.
Do you eat ricotta very often?