While flipping through a magazine at the car dealership (of all places), I came across a recipe for ricotta cheese. I had wanted to try cheesemaking for a long time, and soft, fresh cheese seemed like an easy way to start. I took a picture of the recipe with my phone and emailed it to myself (isn’t this what technology is for?) and set out to make the ricotta.
I’m not a huge fan of store-bought ricotta and don’t often use it. Every time I buy ricotta, I look at the ingredients to make sure no gelatin or non-vegetarian ingredient has slipped in, and see a few extra ingredients that aren’t natural. I stir the cheese before using since it slides out of the container and keeps that shape. I figured homemade has to be tastier and easy to make.
Homemade ricotta takes a few ingredients and special supplies and very little hands-on time and effort. Homemade really does taste a lot better. This recipe uses lemon juice instead of vinegar, but you could use vinegar. I like the sweet and zesty flavor the lemon gives it.
Homemade ricotta cheese
This made a little more than one cup
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Zest and juice of two lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Heat milk and cream to 180° (about boiling).
- Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and zest, salt and sugar and stir.
- Pour into a cheesecloth-lined strainer and strain anywhere from an hour to overnight (depending on how thick you like it).
- Press out any remaining liquid. It’s ready to use and should last a few days.
As if a sign, I also found a recipe for eggplant ricotta bake that included eggplant and ricotta (obvs!) layered with tomato sauce. No pasta, no breadcrumbs, something a little different and lighter. And guess who makes a decent tomato sauce and had a lot of tomatoes on hand? Me!
This recipe is really tasty and filling without being heavy, and it looks great out of the oven with the layers visible when baked in a glass dish and the cheese on the top bubbling. Pair it with a nice salad, and you have a meal.
- 2 large eggplants (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each) sliced lengthwise 3/4 inch thick
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 15 ounces (1 2/3 cups) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 16 ounces (2 cups) marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush lightly on both sides with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender and golden, turning halfway through, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil.
- Lay a fourth of eggplant slices in bottom of prepared dish; spread with half of marinara sauce. Top with another fourth of eggplant; spread with half of ricotta. Repeat layers, ending with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Have you made cheese before? How did it work out and what kind did you make?
I tried yogurt and it was a fail, but I feel if I can make ricotta I should be able to make yogurt, so I’ll give it a try again. I was also just given a recipe for mozarella, so I’m giving that a shot soon, too.