I ignored the sign asking not to touch the tomatoes; how could I help it? They were still warm! They had never been refrigerated! They smelled like, well, tomatoes! Costing several dollars a pound less than those at the grocery store, I thought they were a steal. I bought 10 pounds.
Driving home with my ripe and ready-to-eat tomatoes, I needed a plan. I needed to make Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Basil. That meant I had to have a party, since bruschetta means summer, friends, and eating on the deck. A few text messages later, I had enough tomato-loving friends to fill the patio table.
Bruschetta also means Fresh Whole Milk Ricotta, topped with sweet roasted peppers and drizzled with olive oil.
And Fresh Ricotta Cheese means Summer Gnocchi, tossed with the rest of the morels from springtime foraging, and a splash of cream.
Fresh ricotta cheese is really easy to make, and once you taste it you will never go back to store-bought ricotta, although that will definitely work in a pinch.
Fresh ricotta, strips of roasted red pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.
Chopped tomatoes, basil, garlic, sea salt and olive oil.
Fresh ricotta, sliced peaches, and a chiffonade of fresh mint.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Any milk will work for this recipe, as long as it is not ultra-pasteurized. The fresher the milk, the better your ricotta will be.
This recipe makes 2 cups, enough for one recipe of Summer Gnocchi, and is easily doubled.
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 1 pint half and half
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar or strained fresh lemon juice
- Add the milk, half-and-half, and salt to a medium saucepan, and heat slowly until a candy thermometer registers 190ºF, stirring every few minutes to avoid scorching.
- Turn off the heat and add the vinegar or lemon juice, stirring gently.
- Keep the temperature at about 190ºF and do not stir while the curds are forming. This should take about 20 minutes.
- Gently lift the curds out of the whey with a fine mesh strainer or a slotted spoon.
- Drain for 15-30 minutes, depending on how firm you want your cheese to be. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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Traditional Gnocchi is boiled in a pot of salted water much like pasta. I prefer this pan-fried version in the summer, since it doesn't heat up the kitchen.
It is important to hide the cooked gnocchi when they come out of the frying pan, since everyone wandering through the kitchen will snatch them up, leaving nothing left for dinner.
- 2 cups fresh ricotta
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- olive oil and butter, for frying
- Combine the ingredients in a large bowl to make a dough that is moist but not sticky.
- Gradually add extra flour as needed. The less flour you use, the lighter your gnocchi will be.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces; a dough scraper works well for this.
- Roll each piece into a 3/4 inch wide rope. Cut 1 inch gnocchi and place on a parchment lined baking sheet that has been dusted with flour.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and use the same day, or freeze on the baking sheet, then place in baggies to freeze for up to 2 months.
- In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter with 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat until the butter is foaming but not browned. Add the gnocchi to the pan, working in batches, and saute until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes.
- To serve, toss gnocchi with pesto, a light tomato sauce, pan-fried mushrooms and a dash of cream, or just with butter and sage.