There’s something very pleasing about an open-faced sandwich a.k.a. bruschetta in Italy, tartine in France, or smørrebrød in Scandinavia. The filling becomes the topping, which is a lovely reflection of the sum of its parts and a visual tease, beckoning a bite. It begins with day old bread which gets a revitalizing browning on the grill. From there you can get as creative as you like. This rendition includes fresh ricotta, roasted beets and a generous smear of a garden pesto I made with parsley and mint.
Ricotta Beet Bruschette with Garden Pesto
2 cups fresh parsley
1 cup fresh mint
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices day-old ciabatta or country loaf bread, about 3/4-inch thick each
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ricotta cheese
6 roasted and peeled baby beets, cut into wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh baby oregano and thyme flowers
Make the pesto:
Place the parsley, mint, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped. With the motor running add the 1/2 cup oil in a steady stream until blended. If too thick, add extra oil to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oven broiler or a grill. Brush the bread slices with oil. Broil or grill until toasted golden on both sides but still tender in the center. Remove and cool the bread for 5 minutes. Smear the ricotta on the bread, then drizzle some of the pesto over the ricotta. Top with beets. Brush the beets with a little oil and season the bruschetta with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh oregano and thyme flowers. Serve whole or cut in half for smaller bites.
Strawberries are not just for dessert. They are also stunning in salads, lending sweet acidity to the peppery earthiness of greens. In this case, strawberries are jumbled with arugula as a topping for bruschetta. Creamy, lemon flecked ricotta anchors the salad to the bread, while a balsamic vinaigrette dresses the dish. Hello Spring!
Strawberry Ricotta Bruschetta with Lemon and Arugula
Be sure to use a fresh ricotta for this recipe. A creamy, mild goat cheese may be used in place of the ricotta. Makes 2.
2 large strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 slices peasant or levain bread
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh ricotta or mild goat cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup arugula leaves, washed and dried
Freshly ground black pepper
Toss the strawberries and balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl; set aside. Preheat oven broiler. Brush bread slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Broil in the oven until golden brown, turning once.
Smear the ricotta over the bread slices. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Pile arugula on the bruschetta. Remove the strawberries from the vinegar, shaking off excess liquid, and arrange over the arugula. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt into the remaining vinegar. Drizzle over and around the bruschetta. Garnish with black pepper.
Posted in Appetizers, Crostini, Fruit, salad, spring, Summer, Vegetables and Salads, Vegetarian
Tagged arugula, bruschetta, lemon, recipe, ricotta, spring, strawberries
I find it impossible to resist beets. Their colors are magnificent – it’s a miracle that nature can provide something edible that is so vibrantly hued. With the vivid color, of course, comes nutrients. Beets are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and beta-carotene. I purchased these beets at the farmers’ market, without knowing how I would prepare them. I was simply happy looking at them.
Prompted by a batch of fluffy ricotta in my fridge, I decided to layer the yellow beets with the cheese as a riff on lasagna, with the beet slices replacing the lasagna sheets. Yellow beets are milder in flavor than red beets, and their nutty, buttery flavor wouldn’t overpower the cheese. I also feared the red beets would completely saturate the dish with their magenta color, which, while lovely to look, threatened to irrevocably tint my pristine ricotta. This is a visually motivated dish.
Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian
Makes 1 – 8 inch square tian or 4 individual ramekins
1 1/2 pounds yellow beets (4 medium or 8 small)
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely shredded basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Trim and peel beets. Slice very thinly crosswise with a mandoline or knife. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beet slices. Cook until tender but firm, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Blot dry with a kitchen towel. Place in a bowl and toss with juice of 1/2 lemon.
Combine lemon zest, ricotta, garlic, basil, 1/4 cup pecorino cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl.
Arrange beets in one layer, slightly overlapping, in an earthenware or gratin dish. Smear some of the ricotta over the beets. Repeat layering process, finishing with ricotta on the top. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pecorino cheese. Bake until beets are tender and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.
Posted in Appetizers, gluten-free, Tians and Casseroles, Vegetables and Salads, Vegetarian
Tagged beet, lasagna, recipe, ricotta, Tian, vegetable, vegetarian
I love peas. They are nature’s superior answer to fast food, popped straight from the shell into the mouth. No plastic packaging, no coloring nor additives. I also enjoy them cooked, but in our house they rarely last long enough to make it to the cooking stage. When I do manage to put some aside, I love to purée them and serve as an accompaniment to shellfish, or keep them whole, tossed into pastas and risottos. This torte has a little of both. Fresh peas are cooked in butter with shallots and then divided. Half remain intact and the other half are puréed with ricotta to form the base for this colorful springtime egg dish.
Spring Pea and Ricotta Torte with Lemon and Mint
The unmistakable sweetness of the peas is amplified by cooking and can overpower the eggs and ricotta, so I like to balance their sweetness with tangy lemon zest, lots of salty Italian cheese and fresh mint. This dish may be served warm or at room temperature. I find that by letting the torte cool to room temperature, the flavors mellow and smooth into each other in a very appealing way.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
2 cups shelled peas
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup finely grated young Pecorino cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9 inch springform pan and wrap bottom with foil to prevent any leakage. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, one minute. Add peas and 1 teaspoon salt; sauté briefly to coat. Add water or stock, and cook until peas are tender and liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer half of the peas to a bowl of a food processor; puree. Add ricotta and nutmeg; pulse to blend. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk in creme fraiche, 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheese. Stir in remaining peas, mint, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Pour eggs into prepared springform pan. Sprinkle top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake in oven until edges are golden brown and center is puffed and cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.