Updated: Mar 5
I absolutely love citrus, for many reasons, but most definitely because it is so beautiful. And it goes well with cheese. lol.
Citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, are often used to complement ricotta cheese because they provide a bright, tangy flavor that balances the richness of the cheese.
The acidity of citrus fruits can help to cut through the creaminess of the ricotta cheese, making it less heavy and more refreshing. This combination works particularly well in desserts, where the sweetness of the ricotta can be enhanced by the tartness of the citrus.
In addition to flavor, citrus fruits also contain enzymes that can help to break down the proteins in ricotta cheese, making it softer and creamier. This is why many ricotta-based dishes, such as cheesecake and cannoli, often call for a small amount of citrus zest or juice.
Overall, the combination of citrus and ricotta cheese is a classic pairing that offers a delicious contrast of flavors and textures.
Today, I am whipping ricotta cheese with honey, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and mint, Then laying on sweet and tangy citrus slices, then drizzling it with more honey, pistachios and mint. It's definitely a dish that you eat with your eyes first!
I am Italian, so naturally, I love this combination, plus it is believed that this pairing became popular in Italian cuisine, where ricotta cheese is a commonly used ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. Italian desserts such as ricotta cheesecake, cannoli, and sfogliatelle often feature a hint of citrus in the form of lemon or orange zest, which helps to brighten the flavors of the creamy ricotta.
In addition, the use of citrus in Italian cooking can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when Arab traders introduced citrus fruits to the region. The combination of these new ingredients with local ingredients, such as ricotta cheese, helped to create a new culinary tradition that is still enjoyed today.
Regardless of its origins, the combination of citrus and ricotta cheese remains a classic pairing in Italian cuisine and has spread to other cuisines around the world as well.
WHIPPED RICOTTA & WINTER CITRUS WITH PISTACHIOS, HONEY & MINT
Whipped Ricotta: 16oz full-fat ricotta 1 lemon, zest & juice 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp honey 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced S&P 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
To Finish: 4-6 oranges/citrus of choice (navel, Cara Cara, blood, grapefruit, pomelo, etc.) Honey to drizzle S&P Chopped pistachio, to garnish Mint to garnish Toasted bread, to serve Add ricotta, lemon zest & juice, olive oil, honey, garlic and S&P to a bowl, and whip with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes until smooth. Then stir in the fresh mint with a spoon. Set in the fridge to cool while you peel and cut your citrus. Cut off each end of the citrus, them use a knife to cut down from top to bottom, making sure to get off all the rind and white parts. Spoon the ricotta mixture onto a plate, preferably with an edge of some kind. Layer your citrus, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chopped pistachios. Garnish with mint and serve with the toasted bread of your choice.
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