Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Asparagus with Baked Ricotta


Baked ricotta. If you haven't made it before, you need to. You can add this to the list of things I never thought to do before, but should have done.

I knew it was going to be good as soon as I saw the recipe in an Organic Gardening magazine article about a new cookbook by Deborah Madison. I immediately pinned the recipe to my kitchen bulletin board as a reminder to get all the ingredients right away.

Baked ricotta is simply delicious. The sky is the limit when it comes to flavor combinations and uses. Sweet or savory. Appetizer or dinner. You can get creative and I love that.

Of course, I ventured away from the original recipe pairing it with fresh asparagus instead of peas. I also omitted the shavings of Parmesan cheese on top.

One very important thing before we get to the recipe: The baking time of the ricotta can vary a lot, depending on the amount of moisture in the ricotta. Drain out as much of the liquid as possible. I didn't drain my ricotta all that well and the cooking time was about double what the original recipe called for. I wasn't in a hurry so it didn't matter. However, getting as much liquid out as possible before you start is probably a good idea.

Asparagus with Baked Ricotta
(adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison)
Serves 2 for dinner

Ingredients
  • 1 cup, high-quality ricotta cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 5 sage leaves, minced
  • 1 bunch, fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into1-inchh pieces
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup, water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly oil a small ceramic baking dish, about 6 inches in diameter.
  3. Drain the ricotta by putting it in a colander lined with cheese cloth and pressing out the excess liquid.
  4. Pack the drained ricotta into the oiled baking dish, drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake 20 minutes or until the cheese has begun to set and lightly brown.
  5. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and dried thyme over the top and continue to bake until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp, another 10 minutes.
  6. When the cheese is finished baking, heat the butter in medium-sized saute pan over medium heat.
  7. When the butter foams add the onion and sage and cook until the onion becomes translucent.
  8. Add the chopped asparagus and lemon zest along with 1/2 cup of water.
  9. Simmer until the asparagus is bright green and tender, about 5 minutes.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Divide the baked ricotta between two plates. Top with the asparagus and serve.
Yum

Have you made baked ricotta? How do you normally serve it?
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