Summer calls for cool, easy to prepare – often portable foods. We love being in our backyard for meals and entertaining. Roaming through the gardens with something tasty in your palm is the ultimate dining experience for me. Well, I do love a good sit-down fancy feast as well, but this simple format has it’s place too. This whipped ricotta recipe came to me the other day. I saw something somewhere about it – lost the link, but noted I needed to try this. I couldn’t find the exact same recipe so I took ideas from a few experts and developed this version. The addition of fresh herbs and really good bread makes it a fancy hand-held treat or decadent hors d’oeuvre. Brunch would be a fabulous place to showcase this dish as well!
- 16 oz organic heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half (Trader Joe’s has them regularly but local Farmer’s markets have them now!)
- 1/3 C shallot, finely chopped (about one large shallot)
- 1 T minced fresh garlic
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for your toasted bread
- 1 T fresh organic thyme, stemmed and chopped
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt, plus more for your ricotta
- 1 T cracked round pepper, plus more for your ricotta
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes,(optional)
- 2 cups ricotta (we chose whole fat for a richer flavor)
- 1/4 C goat cheese, room temperature
- 2 T fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 C fresh organic basil, torn
- 8-10 springs of fresh organic thyme
- 1 loaf of artisan seeded bread, sliced into palm sized pieces
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil for drizzle on bread
Preheat your oven to 425. In a medium bowl, add your tomato halves, shallots, garlic, 2 T olive oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if using. Toss all ingredients so well incorporated. On a parchment lined sheet pan, lay tomatoes down in a single layer and put in the oven for 18-20 minutes. When done, pull out and set aside to cool – about 15 minutes.
While tomatoes are roasting you can whip your ricotta. In a food processor, add in ricotta, goat cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper and pulse until well incorporated. In a shallow dish, scoop ricotta out and make a divot in the mound.
While tomatoes are cooling you can toast your sliced artisan bread. This can be done under your broiler or on a grill. Simply drizzle olive oil evenly over both sides of your bread, place on parchment lined sheet pan and put under broiler for 3-4 minutes per side until golden and toasted. If using a grill there’s no need for the parchment. You’ll want to grill on medium high heat about 4-5 minutes per side until grill marked and slightly toasted. Please note: You need a good toast on your bread so it can stand up to the juices of the tomatoes.
Once tomatoes are cool, add torn basil and toss. With the tomato juices, add tomato and basil mixture to the ricotta divot and garnish with thyme sprigs and more basil if you’d like. Put your ricotta bowl on a platter and surround the bowl with the sliced toasted bread. Guests can serve themselves at their leisure. If offering as a passed hors d’oeuvre, you can prepare each toasted bread slice with the ricotta and tomatoes and serve on smaller trays with napkins.