When entertaining,  I pay equal attention to the appetizers and the main course because appetizers are the first  “welcome” to the guests. That first impression that leaves its mark.  It’s nice to have a few options that are simple to prepare, and this one fits the bill quite well.  Ever since I saw Celia’s post about it, I wanted to try it.  Baked ricotta!  You can adapt it to your own taste, adding different herbs and spices.  The most important step is draining the ricotta before baking, so that it doesn’t go all watery in the oven.

(from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)

1 container of full-fat ricotta cheese (8 – 10 oz)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
dried herbs of  your choice

Drain the ricotta for a few hours in the fridge in a colander lined with  cheesecloth. Meanwhile, infuse the olive oil with lemon zest, by heating it gently in a small pan over very low heat. When the oil starts to form small bubbles on the edges, turn the heat off and close the pan.  After 30 minutes pass the oil through a sieve to remove the zest.

Transfer the drained ricotta to a small bowl, season it lightly with salt and pepper.  Spread it on an oven-proof dish, drizzle a little of the infused oil on top (you won’t need the full amount!), sprinkle with dried herbs and bake in a 350 F for 30 minutes, until set. Serve warm or cold with your favorite cracker or toast.


to print the recipe, click here

If I had to pick one item that we always serve when entertaining it would be hummus.  We love it and never get tired of it.  I suspect that baked ricotta will be present next to it from now on.  A very nice combination, they look good together and their flavors don’t clash, quite the contrary.

Celia, thanks for constantly inspiring me!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp

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42 thoughts on “A SIMPLE APPETIZER

  1. Sally, you’re really clever, and thank you for being so kind to credit me for what really was your recipe – all I did was throw some stuff together and cross my fingers. πŸ™‚ These days I love having leftover ricotta in the fridge – I can bake a savory version, or sweeten it and throw it into a tart!


    • Celia, you put me into a ricotta-mood… I’ve got a few interesting recipes with ricotta to try in the near future – well, maybe not too near future, but it’s ok, right?

      And the recipe is yours, all yours, I just repeated it!


    • Good question. YOu know, I ALMOST grabbed the part-skim ricotta, but was afraid to use it on my first time making it. Maybe there will be a slight change in texture, but the drizzle of olive oil on top could help even things out. Worth a try…


  2. Yum! And so simple! I am dairy free so haven’t tried this exact version, but I have done something similar during the holidays with goat’s cheese. I don’t think there’s a person on earth who doesn’t appreciate a baked cheese, pre-dinner snack! Ha! πŸ™‚


    • Isn’t that true? I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t love cheese. I know a lady who won’t eat french fries. Another who won’t touch chocolate. But cheese? Never, unless it’ s one of those real stinky ones (which I happen to LOVE! πŸ˜‰


  3. Sally, haven’t commented in a while, was way behind reading your blog, but now I spent a nice time catching up – loved your clay pot pork, and the honey oat bread, very tempted to get a pullman pan myself

    this appetizer will be at our table this weekend, I will drop you an email later about it, i know it will be delicious, I might try the lower fat version of ricotta just in case


  4. I completely agree about yummy appies. Often the best part of the evening is spent nibbling on starters over a glass (or two :)) of wine… I’m totally excited about this baked ricotta – it’s a favourite among cheeses and when it’s served up warm like this, it’s just begging to be dipped in! I could imagine sliced pear, apple or fig being heavenly accompaniments to the crackers as well. Love this idea and the *simplicity* of the recipe – keep the great suggestions coming Sally!


    • That’s what attracted me to the recipe in Celia’s site too – the simplicity of it, you basically assemble it in the very dish you want to serve it, turn the oven on, and voila’! You are done!


    • That little Le Creuset was a gift from a couple of friends from Brazil – I love, love, love it! In fact, they gave us two, one red, one green. So, you’ve made baked ricotta before, you know how good it is… I was a baked ricotta virgin until now


    • Thanks, Rosemary! I went there and it’s a wonderful recipe too! I don’t know why I never thought of baking ricotta before… now I want to make my own, which is a project I’ve had in my “to do list” for a long time


  5. Hi Sally, just dropping in to let you know that I made your delicious appetizer for the boys this afternoon (that didn’t take long :)) – I couldn’t find my usual dish so I used two smaller dishes which worked really well – (one for the boys & I after school and one for my hubby when he gets home from work!). We absolutely loved it! And the boys especially commented on the warmth of the cheese and how nice that was. I used sea salt, rosemary and chopped kalamata with a sprinkle of hot chili peppers and about a half tsp olive oil drizzled on top (for the half batch). Mmmm….. !! I didn’t have time to drain the ricotta but didn’t find it watery upon baking. (maybe we got lucky!) Thanks Sally – this is a keeper for us!


    • You made it already!!!! That’s amazing! Well, I’ m thrilled that you all enjoyed it!

      we had a tiny bit leftover and I can tell you that even straight from the fridge this was awesome… πŸ™‚

      thanks for letting me know….


  6. Sally – I made this yesterday and it was delicious. I had a half of container in the fridge. I halved the recipe and baked it in a brie baker. OMG Delicious and I only made this for myself; can’t wait to make it for my family and friends. Thank you for another great recipe. Darlene


  7. I’ve never had a baked ricotta before. This sounds absolutely wonderful! I liked learning about infusing the olive oil too. I know this is a recipe that everyone in our family would enjoy. Perhaps it will make an appearance at the holidays this year! πŸ™‚


    • I do infused oils quite a bit, actually – sometimes I don’t even heat the oil. If I have a couple of hours, I just mix the lemon or lime zest with olive oil, and walk away. It is amazing how flavorful the oil gets. I hope you try it and love it… (I still cannot believe how fast this year has passed!)


    • Belisquetes! ANgela, adorei esse termo – sabe que estando longe do Brasil ha’ tanto tempo, eu sinto que meu contato com o idioma vai se perdendo, e e’ bem triste essa constatacao… vou usar “belisquete” de agora em diante πŸ˜‰


    • I think it might be because so much effort is focused on the main course and dessert (for the most part). But appetizers have such a great impact! Plus, they need to be good, but not too heavy, just right. This ricotta bake will be a good opening to many types of meals.

      thanks for stopping by!


  8. I will make this as soon. Did you use the Meyer lemon from WF? I think it would be fun to try to make ricotta at home. I saw a recipe a while ago (FC?) and was intrigued but never acted upon it.


    • Yes I did… I was actually amazed to get Meyer lemons at this time of the year!

      and, like you, I want to make ricotta from scratch, using a recipe from Michael Chiarello that I’ve had on my “to do list” for a long time

      wanna race? πŸ˜‰


  9. Pingback: Oven Roasted Rosemary Ricotta

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