What does ricotta cheese taste like? What flavors go well with it?
May, 30 2023
Introduction to Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is a versatile ingredient used in numerous dishes from savory to sweet. It is a unique cheese with a distinct taste, and if you've never tried it before, you're in for a treat. In this article, we're going to explore what ricotta cheese tastes like, as well as some of the flavors that go well with it. So, let's dive in and learn more about this delicious cheese!
What is Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta cheese is a creamy, white cheese originating from Italy. It is made from the whey leftover after making other cheeses, such as mozzarella or provolone. The whey is heated, and an acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) is added to it, causing the proteins to coagulate and form curds. These curds are then drained, resulting in a soft, delicate cheese. Ricotta cheese is typically sold fresh and has a short shelf life, so it's best to use it within a few days of purchase.
The Taste of Ricotta Cheese
Now onto the main question: what does ricotta cheese taste like? Ricotta has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, which is why it works so well in both savory and sweet dishes. The texture is creamy and smooth, with a slight graininess similar to cottage cheese. The taste of ricotta can vary depending on the quality and freshness of the cheese, with higher-quality ricotta having a richer, creamier taste. Overall, ricotta cheese is subtle in flavor, making it a great canvas for other flavors to shine through.
Savory Flavor Pairings
There are countless ways to use ricotta cheese in savory dishes. Here are some popular flavor combinations that go well with ricotta:
Herbs and Greens
Ricotta pairs beautifully with fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and chives. Combining ricotta with leafy greens like spinach or kale also creates a delicious and nutritious dish. Try using ricotta as a base for a creamy pasta sauce, mixed with sautéed spinach and garlic. Or, stuff large pasta shells with a mixture of ricotta, chopped herbs, and grated Parmesan for a tasty and elegant meal.
Tomatoes and ricotta are a match made in heaven. The sweetness of the tomatoes complements the mild flavor of the ricotta perfectly. Use ricotta as a topping for bruschetta or toast, topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. You can also layer ricotta with tomato sauce and pasta for a delicious lasagna or baked ziti dish.
Ricotta and roasted vegetables are a fantastic combination. The creamy texture of the cheese balances the caramelized, slightly charred flavor of the veggies. Try spreading ricotta on a pizza crust, then topping it with roasted vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and red onions. Or, mix ricotta with roasted butternut squash and sage for a comforting pasta sauce.
Sweet Flavor Pairings
Don't forget that ricotta cheese is also an excellent ingredient in sweet dishes. Here are some popular flavor pairings for sweet ricotta dishes:
The tangy, zesty flavor of citrus fruits pairs perfectly with the mild sweetness of ricotta. Lemon and orange are particularly delicious with ricotta. Try making a lemon-ricotta pancake or adding a dollop of ricotta to a citrusy fruit salad. You can also bake ricotta with honey and orange zest for a simple, yet decadent dessert.
Berries and ricotta make a delightful combination, especially during the summer when berries are in season. The natural sweetness of the berries complements the creamy ricotta perfectly. Use ricotta as a filling for crepes, topped with fresh berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Or, mix ricotta with mashed berries and a touch of honey for a delicious fruit dip.
Chocolate and ricotta may seem like an unusual pairing, but it is surprisingly delicious. The creaminess of the ricotta works well with the rich, indulgent taste of chocolate. Try making a chocolate-ricotta tart or adding a spoonful of ricotta to a chocolate smoothie for extra creaminess. You can also mix ricotta with cocoa powder and a touch of sweetener for a healthier chocolate mousse alternative.
Conclusion: The Versatility of Ricotta Cheese
As you can see, ricotta cheese is an incredibly versatile ingredient that works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Its mild taste and creamy texture make it the perfect canvas for a wide variety of flavors. Whether you're using it in pasta dishes, desserts, or as a topping for toast or pizza, ricotta cheese is sure to elevate any dish. So, the next time you come across ricotta in the grocery store, be sure to give it a try and experiment with some of these delicious flavor pairings!