Ricotta is actually a secondary cheese, meaning you make a cheese like mozzarella or paneer and then you use the whey that is left over to make ricotta. Once made, ricotta will keep for a week or two, depending on your fridge and how you store it, but it still needs to be use up more quickly than say, cheddar.
One of my favorite uses for ricotta, besides filling pasta with it, is to put it in baked goods. It ads a lot to muffins and pancakes but it is spectacular on its own. The best recent example of this in my kitchen is the fabulous tart I made the other day.
Berries here have been going on sale pretty regularly so I tend to buy the berry of the week and then use them in pancakes or simply eat them with cream as quickly as possible. However when raspberries went on sale last week I was also sitting on nearly 2 cups of ricotta and I decided to make my own special version of raspberry cheesecake for desert.
Raspberry Ricotta Tart
1 pint of raspberries (or more if you have them!)
2 cups home made ricotta
zest of one half a lemon
1 egg white
1/2 c. sugar
Your favorite tart crust
To begin I use a recipe from the Joy of Cooking for my tart crust. It is a buttery, delicious and rich dough that also uses the yolk of one egg. This is primarily the reason I added an egg white to my tart – I had it left over. It also helps with binding the cheese together and results in a very smooth and light texture. In either case, you can use whichever tart dough you like best. Simply blind bake the shell (standard blind baking is done at 350 for about 10 – 15 minutes) and set aside to fill.
Mix the ricotta, egg white, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl until smooth. You could whip the egg white and fold it in before hand if you want an even lighter end result, but I was going for a cheese-cake like texture so I simply added it to bind.
Pour the ricotta mixture into the tart shell and place in a 300 degree oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top of the cheese mixture is firm but not browned.
Simply add the raspberries to the tart once it is out of the oven and let cool for at least 45 minutes before serving.
As you can see from the picture, this didn’t last long! Enjoy!