Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

Boise is surrounded by golden hills, many of them charred by grass fires. But don’t be deceived: just and hour north, you’ll be among the trees, an hour further and the grass turns green, and just thirty minutes more, you’ll come around the bend into McCall and spot Payette lake, backdropped by Brundage Mountain. This is where we spent the end of August— in a cabin with family. 

We visited just two weeks after the annual huckleberry festival, but there were plenty of wild blackberries at the farmers market still, something you don’t see much of in the front range of Colorado! So of course, I had to take that inspiration and run with it— creating a massive list of things to make (yes, I do seem to have a thing for lists). And perhaps I’ll plant some berries in my yard next spring... blackberries, blueberries, and gooseberries too. 

Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash
Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

Between blackberries, we hit the trails, exploring the Payette Lake peninsula and Bear Basin on mountain bikes. On the hottest day, we rented a paddle board and kayak— the river north of town is breathtaking. 

McCall is truly a gem of a mountain town! Outdoor enthusiasts— put this on your list. You get the strangest feeling riding your bike through the woods, like you’ve been transported to the Red Wood Forest, minus the heat! I'll be sharing a few pictures in my monthly newsletter in just a few days -- sign up here

Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

Published September 6, 2018 by
   Print This Recipe

Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 40 minutes



Ingredients:

Baked Ricotta:
  • 2 cups of full fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons Parmesan (divided in 2 parts)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A few cracks pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Blackberry-Thyme Smash:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
  • 3 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • For serving: crackers, crostinis, and/or crudités of choice

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 50-ounce capacity (about 3 cups) ramekin, baking dish, or cheese baker with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
    2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, lemon zest, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
    3. Using a spatula, transfer the cheese mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan. (Note: Do not over fill your baking dish. Make the cheese level or below the top rim of the baking dish (if needed, divide the cheese between two baking dishes. This will prevent overflow and a mess in your oven!).
    4. Place in oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Parmesan on top should begin to turn golden.
    5. While the cheese is cooking, make the Blackberry-Thyme Smash: place 1 cup black berries, leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme, juice of 1/2 lemon, pinch of salt, and honey in a bowl and mash with a fork until a saucy, jammy mixture is created. Add in remaining 1/2 cup whole berries (for texture).
    6. Spoon Blackberry Smash mixture over baked cheese, and top with a sprig of thyme as garnish. Serve while cheese is still warm with crackers, crostinis, or crudités.

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    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés

    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés

    There are two types of cooking. At least, two that are currently in my mind right now. The first is cooking out of necessity, like getting dinner on the table after a long day or making breakfast in the morning when you are still groggy. The second is a work of art: cooking (or baking or what have you) for the sake of expression. 

    When you are cooking for the sake of expression, you let flavor and sensation take you by the hand and lead the way. My good friend Christine, Chef and Owner at Fresh Thymes Eatery, would say that ingredients talk to her. A pot of simmering lentils would chime in: "Christine, add more wine!!!" (I hope it's ok I just told everyone that! 😉). I love this image: it paints a back-and-forth between chef and food. I've never had a bowl of lentils talk to me, but I know the dance: it waltzes you through the kitchen and over to a bottle of balsamic vinegar. You're not even quite sure where you're headed, but you know it will be beautiful when you get there. 

    I love that type of cooking. It feels very visceral. 

    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés
    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés

    When I started making this appetizer, both types of cooking came together. I was making snacks for guests, and wanted to create a recipe for Foraged Dish that used OrganicGirls' new Butter, Plus blend as a sort of crostini (this blend of butterhead lettuce hearts has as much iron as spinach, can you believe that?!). That's the tactical part... the part I can take credit for.  But all week a whisper had been at my ear: Ricottaaaa. Cantaloupe. A ripe cantaloupe. This is the two-step you find yourself in when the food is doing the thinking and you're just following it across the dance floor. Next thing you know you're munching on an appetizer that is totally new and different. And it always works: when the ingredients are whispering to you, it's because they know best. 

    Give this sweet-and-savory canapé a shot for your next happy hour: grab a ripe melon (one that you can smell even before you cut into it), cook up some bacon or pancetta, and add a dollop of ricotta. Ricotta is like magic, so from there you're golden. The drizzle of balsamic gel is for extra credit.  

    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés
    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés

    OrganicGirl provided me with product for this blog post, but the recipes and opinions are all my own. Working with brands to develop wholesome recipes is one way I keep Foraged Dish going! OrganicGirl helps me stock the pantry and keep the blog going. I only work with brands that I truly enjoy and use.  

    Cantaloupe & Ricotta Canapés

    Published July 20, 2017 by
       |     Print This Recipe

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 15 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 container OrganicGirl Butter, Plus Greens
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1 cantaloupe, scooped into ball with a melon baller
    • 1 cup pancetta or bacon, cooked and chopped into 1-inch pieces or smaller
    • Pepper

    Directions:

    1. Spread the butterhead heart pieces out on a plate in a single layer. Spoon 1 tablespoon of ricotta in the middle of each piece of lettuce.
    2. Place 1 cantaloupe ball in the middle of each scoop of ricotta, and then top with a piece of pancetta. Drizzle with balsamic gel and sprinkle with pepper to taste.

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    Zucchini Ricotta Manicotti

    Zucchini Manicotti

    When you pull this casserole out of the oven, the first thing you'll see is bubbling cheese, that tempts you even when it is too hot to eat. Then, only seconds later, a hot steam that carries the smell of fresh basil and ripe tomatoes hits you. By the time the dish makes in to the counter, the sizzling begins to slow. With in a few minutes the dish sits still. It begs for you, even now when it would burn your tongue. (Maybe you sneak a bite anyways).  

    By now the whole house has smelled like home cooked Italian food for 20 minutes or more, and people are beginning poke their heads into the kitchen. Is it ready? Can we eat yet? What are you up to in here? 

    2overheadtight.jpg
    Zucchini Manicotti

    Cheese. Wine. More cheese in the form of ricotta. That is what you are up to. This recipe is pretty much everything. If your "everything" is ooey, gooey, and delicious, that is. And somehow folded in there is a pile of vegetables too: zucchini for noodles, spinach folded in with the ricotta, and a homemade tomato sauce that will make you proud.

    This is a pile of cheesy Italian flavor you'll feel really good about eating. Despite begin literally stuffed with cheese, this recipe is light: it doesn't leave you feeling groggy the way this dish would if it was made with traditional pasta. We serve it with extra marinara sauce (I love homemade marinara sauce) and a side salad, and call it a meal. Oh--and don't forget the glass of wine! Red is perfect for this dish. 

    Zucchini Manicotti
    Zucchini Manicotti

    If you're worried about the logistics of wrapping a bunch of cheese in thinly sliced zucchini, I don't blame you! But it's even easier than I originally thought it would me, so watch the video below to see how this impressive dish comes together, and you'll see you have nothing to worry about!

    Music: www.bensound.com

    Zucchini Ricotta Manicotti

    Paleo, Primal, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

    Zucchini is cut thin and rolled around ricotta as a stand in for traditional manicotti!

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time:



    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium zucchinis
    • 1 egg
    • 1-1/2 cup ricotta
    • 1 cup grated parmesan, split in half
    • 1 8-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
    • Salt & pepper


    • For sauce:
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup red wine
    • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced - plus more for garnish
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • Salt & pepper

    Directions:

    1. First, make the marinara sauce: heat avocado oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Dice white onion, and mince garlic. Add both to sauce pan once oil is hot, and sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic begins to brown. Pour wine into pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brunt pieces from the bottom of the pot. Allow to simmer, then add tomatoes. Stir. Add oregano and basil, and then season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
    2. Spread 1/2 of sauce in the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish.
    3. Make the ricotta filling next. Place thawed spinach in a fine mesh sieve and squeeze out any excuses water. Place in a mixing bowl, and combine with ricotta, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, egg, and a few sprinkles of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir until combined.
    4. Preheat oven to 400°F and assemble: use a potato peeler or mandolin to slice the zucchini in long, thin strips (watch the video above to see an example). Place two zucchini strips on a flat surface so that they overlap by about 1/2 an inch. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on the short edge of the zucchini strips, and then roll up the zucchini strips around the ricotta like a roll of sushi. Place in the baking dish. Repeat until you run out of ricotta.
    5. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the manicottis and place in oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cheese is gooey, and sauce is bubbly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh basil as garnish. I also serve with extra sauce (the remaining 1/2) because I love marinara sauce!
    6. Note: I find that when I get to the middle of the zucchini, it becomes hard to slice because of the seeds, so I move on to the second zucchini and reuse the middle of each zucchini later for another meal.

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