As far as appetizers go, it is hard to find a simpler recipe that would deliver as much flavor! You can find all sorts of variations in cookbooks and in the blogosphere, including my own blog a couple of years ago, using a recipe from my friend Celia.  Have hearty crackers or nice baguette toasts ready to dive in… my preference is to enjoy it still hot from the oven, but be very careful, the center of this baby will be like a cheesy lava.

Baked Ricotta

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

1 cup ricotta cheese, drained  (full fat)
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon olive oil
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup room temperature goat cheese
pinch of crushed red pepper
pinch of kosher salt, more to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Heat the olive oil on a small pan, add the rosemary leaves. When the leaves start to sizzle, turn the heat off, and close the pan.  Let the oil infuse for 15 minutes.  Remove any large pieces of rosemary from the oil, very small bits can be added to the dip.

Combine the ricotta, rosemary oil,  and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly.    Serve right away with crackers or a nice baguette.  It is also good at room temperature.


to print the recipe, click here

While typing this recipe, I realized that I tend to add lemon zest and juice to almost everything I make…   Maybe I should have named the blog Lemony Kitchen. Truth is, just the thought of running out of lemons makes me very uncomfortable.  I will often taste a sauce, a salad dressing, a steamed veggie, and tell myself there’s something missing.   I reach for a lemon, and just a little bit of its juice does the trick.  In this particular recipe, the zest adds a lot, the baked cheese ends up with a lighter “feel”.

Of course, you should go ahead and change this recipe to suit your taste.  Tarragon or dill could be wonderful replacing rosemary.   If you are not fond of goat cheese, it can be left out, or substituted with feta or even another type of creamy cheese.  Maybe a Brie, if you don’t mind multiplying the calories and fat by a factor of 2. Maybe 3.  Who’s counting?   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned


THREE YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

FOUR YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad


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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