Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Hot Ricotta Dip with Thyme, Chilli and Garlic

The word 'dip' implies a cold mixture, but why shouldn't it be piping hot, molten and herby? Because winter's coming roaring towards us in the Cape, my thoughts have turned to comforting food, so here's my first cold-weather recipe of the season.
Hot Ricotta Dip with Thyme, Chilli and Garlic

I'm such a fan of good ricotta cheese. I admit that it doesn't have the sexy, fatty, stringiness of melted hard cheeses, or the creamy crumbliness of a good feta or similar white cheese. But I love the plainness and cleanness of the taste of ricotta, and its wonderful grainy texture.

Here's a basic recipe for a hot ricotta dip that you can gussy up with all sort of interesting ingredients. Here, I've used chopped artichoke hearts, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and dried chilli flakes, but you can really add anything you please, provided that it's an ingredient that tastes good hot. Avocado, for example, is out, and I'd avoid anything with a vaguely bitter taste, such as olives.

Make sure you serve this piping hot, and straight away. The leftovers are lovely on hot toast, for breakfast. This makes quite a large quantity, but the recipe is easily halved.

Hot Ricotta Dip with Thyme, Chilli and Garlic

Hot Ricotta Dip with Herbs, Chilli and Garlic
350 g fresh ricotta cheese
100 g finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) dried red chilli flakes
the juice of half a lemon
a clove of garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp (10 ml) finely snipped chives
2 T (30 ml) olive oil
a tin of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
salt and milled black pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 180ºC. Set aside a quarter of the grated Pecorino. Put all the remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir very well to combine. The mixture should form a slightly firm paste. If it looks too dry, add a little milk. Pack the mixture into bowls and top with the remaining grated Pecorino. Bake at 180º C for ten minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and heated right through. Now turn on the oven grill and grill for a few minutes, or until the topping is golden. Serve very hot, with nachos or crackers.

Serves 6 to 8 as a starter
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redkathy said...

Delicious! I'm a big ricotta fan. You mention the leftovers, if there were any, on hot toast and I can't decide which one I like better!!

Anthony said...

mmmm... looks very tastey. Will definitely give it a go in our kitchens.