Summer on a Plate: Zucchini Carpaccio with Homemade Ricotta Cheese

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My back deck is in bloom with flowers in a rainbow of colors.  It’s definitely the perfect spot for some outdoor entertaining.  Patrice Costa, back again, to share this recipe which I feel is the epitome of summer flavors (courtesy of Bon Appétit).  Green and yellow zucchini, sliced as thin as possible, dressed simply with lemon and olive oil, then topped with homemade ricotta cheese (what!? Yes, that’s what I said – HOMEMADE – and trust me, it’s easy).  So, pick up the ingredients this weekend at one of our local farmers markets or a farm stand like Meadows Farm in Yorktown (they have beautiful zucchini and just pulled out of the ground basil) and in about 30 minutes or so, you can have this:

(All photos by Margaret Rizzuto Photography)

Once you make this luscious and creamy ricotta cheese, store bought will be a thing of the past.  The recipe makes more cheese than what is needed for the zucchini, but believe me the extra will disappear.  At our house, we use it to top just about anything – English muffins for breakfast, bruschetta for appetizers, or fruit for dessert.

RICOTTA CHEESE

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit (April 2010)
Variations: Lemon Ricotta Cheese – add zest & juice of one lemon into the milk and buttermilk before heating
Makes about 3 cups

1  gallon whole milk
1  quart reduced-fat (2%) buttermilk

1.   Place a medium fine strainer (the holes cannot be very large) over a bowl and set aside. In a heavy large pot, combine milk and buttermilk. Attach deep-fry or candy thermometer to side of pot.  Place pot over high heat. Stir gently as mixture heats. Curds (small clumps) will begin to form. When thermometer registers 175°F to 180°F (about 15 minutes) curds will separate from whey (liquid) and float to top. Turn off heat.

[Admission:  I am the gadget goddess, but I understand that not everyone has a candy thermometer.  I only used it the first time as a guide.  Just before the liquid gets to barely a simmer, you will clearly see the curds separating and floating.]

2.   Using a large slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer curds to prepared strainer. Let drain for about 5 minutes, reserving strained liquid (if the texture needs to be extra dry to fill ravioli, let it sit for about 20 minutes).

3.  Transfer ricotta to medium bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt and add back some of the strained liquid mixing gently so as not to break up the fluffy curds. The amount of liquid needed will vary by the amount of firmness desired and can be omitted entirely if using the cheese for ravioli or stuffed shells. Let cool, cover and keep in fridge.

Doesn’t this look heavenly?

ZUCCHINI CARPACCIO WITH HOMEMADE RICOTTA CHEESE

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit (April 2010)
Variations: Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes layered with the zucchini; substitute lemon thyme or regular thyme for the basil
Serves 8 or more

4  medium zucchini squash (2 green & 2 yellow)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2  green onions (scallions); thinly sliced
4  tablespoons lemon juice; fresh
4  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups homemade ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons basil; chopped

1.  Cut zucchini (carefully!) into paper-thin rounds (a little less than 1/8 inch thick) with sharp knife or mandoline.

2.  Arrange rounds alternating green and yellow, slightly overlapping, on large platter. Season lightly with kosher salt and pepper.  Top with green onions.

3.  Whisk lemon juice and oil in small bowl. Drizzle dressing evenly over zucchini and set aside for about 20 minutes to let dressing absorb into veggies. When ready to serve, drop small spoonfuls of ricotta cheese (approximately 1 1/2 cups) on top of zucchini. Garnish with basil.

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3 Comments

  1. Patrice Costa on

    Toasted pine nuts would be a great addition! Liz, this recipe works perfectly. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

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