Saving dinner with home-made ricotta

28 Nov

Today was lovely and warm, so I planned a risoni salad with smoked salmon, rocket, ricotta and capers for dinner. I make variations on this often over the summer months, because P and I love it, and the kids enjoy most of the ingredients too.

Just don’t mention the leafy bits.

I had everything ready to go this afternoon when I realised that I didn’t have any ricotta. I called P to ask him to pick it up on his way home, but he was running late, and then I realised- I’ve made ricotta before, and it’s dead easy…

So I set to work.

1. I poured about 3 cups of whole milk into a saucepan and heated to simmering point. Published instructions tend to specify exact temperatures, but I couldn’t find my thermometer and I think it works fine if you pull it off just before it starts to look close to boiling. You can see the bubbles and froth forming on the surface and around the edges.

2. Once I was happy with the temperature, I pulled the saucepan off the heat, and poured in the juice of 1 lemon.

I stirred it briefly just to mix the juice evenly through, but you don’t want to stir too much, because it will disturb the forming curd.

3. You can see that the milk separates almost immediately, but I leave the curds to knit together for 5-10 minutes.

(This step isn’t strictly necessary, but you will improve your yield if you do so).

4. I then poured my ricotta gently into a strainer lined with my makeshift cheesecloth – a clean flour bag.

You can use almost anything to substitute for cheesecloth – paper towel, chux, coffee filters, a tea towel- the finer the weave the greater the yield, but the longer the straining takes.

I then poured out the first few minutes of liquid strained off so the strainer wasn’t sitting in the majority of the whey, then put the entire thing into the fridge to strain further and cool. I then set to work on the rest of dinner:

Smoked salmon risoni salad with rocket and capers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

250grams dried risoni (rice-shaped pasta)

180 grams hot-smoked salmon (I like Tassal brand)

Large handful of wild rocket, washed (sometimes I add baby spinach too)

2 tsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lime

150 grams fresh ricotta

1/4 cup capers (I use Sandhurst baby capers in wine vinegar)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the risoni to al dente in salted boiling water, then drain and cool with cold water. Strain completely, then drissle with the olive oil to prevent the risoni from sticking together.

Flake the salmon and add to the risoni, along with the capers and rocket.

Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve, then scatter small spoonfuls of fresh ricotta over the top of each plate. If you like, you could also drissle with a little extra olive oil.

All up, the ricotta took about 40 minutes, and was ready when P walked in the door. So It was faster that heading to the shops to buy the stuff. I use biodynamic milk, so 3 cups of it is pretty expensive by supermarket standards, but if you used Coles/Woolies milk at $1/litre, then home-made (whole-milk) ricotta is a bargain too.

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10 Responses to “Saving dinner with home-made ricotta”

  1. Sarah November 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Wow, that does look easy – I’m going through lots of cottage cheese/ricotta at the moment because it’s so easy to turn into baby food and the little guy loves eating it. Might have to give a home-made batch a try.

    • L November 29, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      Yes, it’s such a good baby food! Cottage cheese is quite easy too – it uses rennet, but it’s fast and simple. I like these fresh cheeses because they are high yielding and easy.

  2. Lilian November 29, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    This is on my to do list… looks yum!

  3. Frogdancer November 29, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    “You can use almost anything to substitute for cheesecloth – paper towel, chux, coffee filters, a tea towel- the finer the weave the greater the yield, but the longer the straining takes.”

    I love you!!! I made natural yoghurt on Sunday to make labna but realised I didn’t have any cheesecloth so it’s just been sitting in the fridge waiting for me to get to Spotlight. I’m going to grab a teatowel and the colander right now!

    • L November 29, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      Glad I could be helpful. Just don’t be tempted to use a fluffy tea towel πŸ™‚

  4. Liz November 29, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    How did I not know how to do this? Is it really this easy? Fabulous post!!!! I’m trying it tomorrow!

    • L November 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      Hehe. It really is. I think the sticklers for cheese definitions would say it isn’t really ricotta, but I don’t actually like ricotta made from whey only. The product you get from this is very similar to the fresh ricotta that comes in the vacuum sealed bag with the strainer inside – see http://www.qfoods.com.au/products/?view=detail&product_id=5412

      Marscapone is almost as easy, and the money you save with that one… Maybe I should blog about cheesemaking more often.

  5. the green backyard November 30, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    That is so clever!!

  6. Louise August 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Gosh, I love the sound of this salad. And thanks for the ricotta recipe.

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