Homemade Ricotta

If you follow any sort of food blog, you’ll know that just about everyone has written about how easy it is to make fresh ricotta at home.  “How easy?” do you ask?  Well, let’s just say it’s ridiculously easy.  There are four steps:

  • Heat milk
  • Add acid
  • Drain
  • Enjoy

and it will leave you wondering why you would shell out money at the grocery store for this…..

….when all you need are three ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. Some recipes for ricotta call for the use of heavy cream in addition to the whole milk, but I found that just plain whole milk is just fine and results in a nice light fluffy cheese.  Plus, who needs all that additional fat in their diet?

When you’re making this cheese, after separating the curds from the whey, I found that it is much more efficient to spoon the curds into the strainer, rather than to simply pour everything in from the pot.  By spooning it in, you’ll minimize the amount of whey you put in, therefore shortening the total drainage time.  Also, the longer you drain the curds, the thicker your cheese will be.  Here was my final product.  I let it drain for about 30 minutes, and it was a nice consistency, not too thick.

This recipe is very similar to the paneer cheese that I made a while back.  As with that recipe, you can add different herbs and spices into the curds for a nice flavor.

I ended up making Eggplant Rollatini with a nice tomato sauce — not my healthiest meal due to the amount of cheese called for, but I did use less than the original recipe required.  I have included the recipe for this Eggplant Rollatini below after the recipe for the ricotta.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

(about 2 cups)

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Set a large strainer over a deep bowl. Line the strainer with two layers of cheesecloth.

Over medium heat, bring the milk and salt to a boil while stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.  Allow the mixture to stand for a minute and you will begin to see it separate into curds (thick) and whey (watery).

Pour into the cheesecloth-lined strainer and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for about 20 to 25 minutes.  The longer you let it drain, the thicker the ricotta will be. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, and discard the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days.

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Eggplant Rollatini

(serves 8)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise for a total of 16 slices
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, jarred is fine
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups homemade ricotta
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano, parsley, or basil – or any combination of the three
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Divide the oil between two rimmed baking sheets.  Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and turn to coat in the oil; season with half of the salt and pepper.  Bake until the slices are soft and start to brown — probably about 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let them cool.  Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees.
In the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread a half cup of the marinara sauce.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, oregano/parsley/basil, parsley, 2/3 cup of the mozzarella, and  a little more of the salt and pepper.
Place about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on one end of an eggplant slice, roll it up, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices and ricotta mixture.
Top the eggplant rolls with the remaining marinara sauce and the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
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