Ricotta cheese. Most of us probably associate this cheese with lasagna or a filling for ravioli. The word ricotta actually means re-cooked and is made with the whey that is left over after another cheese is produced. You’ve all heard of “curds and whey”-well the curds get formed into cheese and the whey that is left over is boiled and made into ricotta. I thought I made ricotta once using a recipe from Gourmet magazine, only to find out that it wasn’t actually ricotta since I hadn’t made it from whey!
Our recent trip to the farm in the Garfagnana to watch pecorino being made included a lesson in ricotta. It really didn’t take that long for the cheese to form and the farmer happily gave us a taste while it was still warm and I can tell you, it wasn’t like any ricotta I’d ever eaten! I savored that spoonful of cheese and wished I could have had a bowlful. Little did I know that there was a big treat in store for us before we left the farm. After lunch (which I’ll tell you about next time) the farmer’s wife brought dessert to the table-slices of the fresh ricotta covered with a sauce she made from wild blueberries.
The combination of the creamy cheese and the slightly tart blueberry sauce was amazing. It really was the essence of what Italian food is all about-simple food, made with the freshest ingredients. Nothing fancy, but just perfect.
Dessert photo courtesy of H., our guide.