You probably know ricotta as the cheese that goes in lasagne or manicotti but ricotta is so much more. If you've ever had ricotta straight out of the container or tried freshly made ricotta, you know exactly what I mean. It's luscious, creamy and sweet all on its own. Ricotta is amazing simply spread on toast or served as a snack or appetizer. It can even be a dessert—I like it drizzled with honey.
Recently I had a dish of ricotta as a starter to a wonderful lunch at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria. Even after platters of salumi, plates of pasta and panini, I was most enamored with a simple dish of ricotta with fava beans, so much so that I decided to recreate the dish at home. It's so easy to do that it's practically effortless and there's almost no cooking involved except for blanching the fresh favas.
Here it is much like the original. A drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper is the only flavoring the ricotta needs. Creamy spring fava beans add a nice textural contrast. And fresh herbs add bursts of flavor with every spoonful. Serve it over toasted bread, such as crostini, for the best pairing.
Fresh Ricotta with Olive Oil, Fava Beans, and Herbs
1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup blanched, shelled fava beans
1/4 cup mixed micro herbs and greens
toasted bread, for serving
Spread ricotta onto a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter over with fava beans and herbs. Serve with toasted bread. Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer.