The history books say that ricotta cheese came about when there was an excess of whey in Italy. The word ricotta comes from the Latin word for recooked and it is typically made by reheating whey, during which time the proteins rise to the surface, are skimmed off, and set to drain. Ricotta isn’t actually even technically a cheese. It is a dairy product. In order for it to be a cheese, either a starter or a rennet would need to be used in the process.
Before I started shopping at the farmers markets, I knew ricotta as this grainy, flavorless, filler “cheese” that was used in lasagna. I actively went out of my way to avoid the stuff. But then I was shopping at the University District Farmers’ Market on day and Sea Breeze Farms had fresh ricotta. I was in love. I can eat the stuff on crackers or even right out of the container. I’ll put it in lasagna, in my well made malfatti, or on a salad. You really can’t beat Sea Breeze’s ricotta. Or so I thought.
Last weekend, Sea Breeze had Herbed Ricotta. How better to improve on perfection than by adding seasonings? Of course we bought some. So I adapted an old recipe for celery salad with fresh ricotta fritters and made herbed ricotta fritters.
- 1 large tub fresh ricotta (about 2 cups)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Panko breadcrumbs
1. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, flour, and Parmesan cheese.
2. Mix in the egg and the salt and pepper.
3. Place the Panko breadcrumbs on a plate.
4. In a large skillet, heat oil or lard over medium-high heat.
5. Form patties out of the ricotta mixture, dredge in the Panko, and fry until golden brown (about 3 minutes per side).
6. Serve alone, with a salad and/or a dollop of salad dressing.
Chef’s Notes: These are so good I should make them every week. The entire recipe takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. The ricotta is creamy, so the crunchy fried panko is perfect with it. If you don’t pick up herbed ricotta, you can add some minced rosemary, sage, oregano, or basil to the ricotta mixture before cooking. I bet that these would also be excellent with some of Secret Stash Salt’s flavored salts.
Note: If you don’t have fresh ricotta, and instead want to make this with supermarket ricotta, I have a couple of suggestions. First, plan ahead. A few hours before, line a mesh strainer with cheese cloth and put it over a bowl. Place the supermarket ricotta over the strainer and let the extra liquid drain out. Upscale markets will also likely have their own higher quality ricotta, and while it might not be quite as thick and perfect as the ricotta from Sea Breeze Farms, it should work just fine.