When ricotta cheese is baked, its flavor deepens and its texture becomes firmer – almost like an Italian cheesecake. This recipe can be made will whole milk or low-fat ricotta; if you use the low-fat kind, some luquid (whey) will come out during cooking, but will be reabsorbed as the ricotta cools. Serve this dish slightly warm or at room temperature – maybe with some fresh fruit – and sliced into wedges.
|One pound, ricotta cheese (see introductory note)
|Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray – or brush the pan with vegetable oil.
Place the ricotta cheese in the pan, and spread it to make a circle about 6-inches in diameter (not quite as wide as the pan) and about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake the ricotta in the center of the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges turn a light golden brown, and the top is firm to the touch. The top will be just beginning to color lightly. [Cook’s Note: the cheese may spread an “weep” a bit during baking; this is expected.]
Remove the cheese from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature
Mix (or swirl) 2 tablespoons of good jam or preserves into the ricotta before baking
Heat 1/3 cup of raisins in 1/4 cup rum (on the top of the stove, or microwave for 30-40 seconds on “high) to plump the raisins. Stir this mixture into the ricotta before baking.
Stir into the ricotta: 1/2 cup, chopped dates, 1/2 cup, chopped walnuts, 1 teaspoon, grated lemon zest – then bake as described.