10 ways with ricotta
Low in fat, this versatile ingredient is great in sweet and savoury dishes
Make cheesy chicken
Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200°C (180°C in a fan oven). Grate half a ball of mozzarella and mix with 5tbsp ricotta, 2tbsp parmesan, 1 crushed clove of garlic and 1tsp thyme. Make a slit in sides of 4 chicken breasts and stuff with cheese mix. Wrap each breast in 2 pieces of parma ham. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 mins, until cooked through and piping hot.
Cook up cannelloni
Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200°C (180°C in a fan oven). Heat 1tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook 1 finely chopped onion and 1 crushed clove garlic for about 5 mins or until soft. Remove from heat and stir with 2 x 250g cartons of ricotta, 450g/1lb defrosted frozen leaf spinach and a pinch of nutmeg. Divide between 1 x 250g pack fresh lasagne sheets and roll up. Spoon half a 680g jar passata into bottom of a baking dish and top with cannelloni rolls. Pour over rest of passata and sprinkle with 100g/31⁄2oz fresh breadcrumbs and a handful of grated parmesan. Bake for 25-30 mins, until bubbling and golden.
Stir with spaghetti
Cook 350g/12oz spaghetti, as instructed on pack, adding 200g/7oz frozen peas to pasta for last 3 mins. Meanwhile, heat 1tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and cook 1 finely chopped clove garlic for 1 min. Drain pasta and peas and add to pan with 150g/5oz ricotta, a squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of chopped fresh mint. Season and serve.
Pop it in a pancake
Beat together 125g/4oz ricotta, 150ml/5fl oz milk and 2 egg yolks. Stir in 150g/5oz flour, 1tsp baking powder, 2tbsp caster sugar and pinch salt, until just combined. Whisk 2 egg whites until stiff peaks and carefully fold into ricotta mix. Heat 2tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan and dollop in a few spoonfuls of batter. Cook over a low-medium heat for 2-3 mins, until golden underneath, then turn over and cook for 1-2 mins. Cook rest of mix in same way. Serve with maple syrup, strawberries and a little yoghurt, if you like.
Sweeten a croissant
Mix together 4tbsp ricotta and 4tbsp chocolate spread. Unroll a 250g can of croissant dough and separate triangles. Divide ricotta mixture between triangles and roll up into crescents. Brush tops with beaten egg, scatter over flaked almonds, and bake as instructed on pack. Serve warm.
Bake it with eggs
Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180°C (160°C in a fan oven). Chop 2 thick slices of ham into cubes and stir into 1 x 250g carton ricotta, with 1 deseeded and finely chopped red chilli and 1tbsp chopped fresh parsley. Season and divide between 4 ramekins. Top each with an egg and a pinch of black pepper. Bake for 10-15 mins, until egg is done to your liking. Serve with crusty bread.
Add to aubergines
Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180°C (160°C in a fan oven). Brush sliced aubergines with oil, and cook on a griddle. Layer in a baking dish with slices of roasted red pepper. Sprinkle over pinch of paprika, pinch of cumin and grated zest of 1 lemon, then spoon over blobs of ricotta and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Bake for 15 mins, then scatter with chopped coriander. Squeeze over lemon juice and serve with toasted pitta bread.
Perk up a pizza
Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200°C (180°C in a fan oven). Spoon 5tbsp passata over a ready-made pizza base. Wilt 175g/6oz spinach and top pizza, then spoon over blobs of ricotta. Season and scatter with a pinch of chilli flakes and a handful of sliced black olives. Bake for 10 mins, then remove from oven and top with an egg. Return to oven and cook for another 5-8 mins, or until egg is cooked to your liking.
Bung it on a bagel
Mix together 150g/5oz ricotta, handful of chopped smoked salmon, 1tbsp drained chopped capers, 1tbsp chopped fresh dill and zest, and juice of half a lemon. Spread over toasted bagels and grind on fresh black pepper.
Dress up a dessert
Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180°C (160°C in a fan oven). Stir together 1 x 250g pot ricotta with 2tbsp icing sugar, seeds of 1 vanilla pod and zest of 1 lemon. Cut crosses in 8 figs. Drizzle each with 1tbsp honey, then sprinkle with a little rum and a pinch of cinnamon. Roast in oven for 15 mins then plate up, spooning on sweetened ricotta.