Homemade Herbed Ricotta and Tomato Salad

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This is my first year growing tomatoes, and I have been patiently waiting while my first three tomatoes ripen. Today was the day, they smelled delicious and their skin was a perfect red, we decided to harvest our first tomatoes!

How do you do your first tomatoes justice though? I didn’t want to cook them down into a dish, I wanted to let them shine and have a presence. First, I figured a caprese salad, but I didn’t feel like going all the way to the market for good mozzarella, so I went to the grocery for a gallon of milk instead. On the walk back, I decided why not make something a little different (and simpler, since I am in the process of editing my book and didn’t want to spend all day on this), I decided to make ricotta.

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Generally, ricotta is made from whey (the leftovers of making cheese once the curds are removed), but it can be made just as easily from milk. Technically you are making a queso fresco but with slightly different acids to separate the curds.

There are varied recipes calling for different acids. Some use lemon juice or vinegar, I use citric acid since I have it on hand to make mozzarella anyway. I always find that I need variable amounts of lemon juice to process a gallon of milk, but I always need to teaspoons full of citric acid.

Ricotta is a very easy cheese to make, you just have to wait a bit as it drains.

Homemade Ricotta

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1 gallon whole milk, pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon citric acid

Combine all ingredients and stir for about 30 seconds.
Heat the milk in a Dutch oven until it reaches somewhere between 170-180°F. Be careful not to go above 190.
Let rest for 15 minutes to allow curds to form.
Carefully ladle out the curds and put in a colander lined with a cheese cloth. Let drain for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how dry you want your ricotta to be.
For this recipe, I like to add oil and herbs, so I let it dry for 2 hours.

Total cooking time: 30 minutes + 2 hours drain

Herbed Ricotta and Tomato Salad

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1 1/2 cup ricotta
large handful of fresh basil, slivered
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
3 large very ripe homegrown (if possible) tomatoes
finishing salt
salt and pepper

To make the herbed ricotta, combine the cheese with half of the basil, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Slice up tomatoes to 1/4 inch slices and arrange on a platter.
Arrange herbed ricotta on top.
Sprinkle with remaining basil and finishing salt.
Mix together remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a vinaigrette, drizzle over salad just before serving, or just use a drizzle of olive oil!

Total cooking time: 5 minutes, serves 2-4

6 Comments Add yours

  1. chefkreso says:

    Ricotta cheese and fresh tomatoes are perfect together 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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