This light, herbed ricotta dip appetizer is loaded with flavor and makes eating veggies a pleasure.
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Read on for several relevant tips and pictures (2 mins)
About This Quick Ricotta Dip Recipe
Adding two unusual ingredients infuses the creamy ricotta cheese with great umami taste and elevates the added bright, zesty herbal notes. The short total time to prepare the delicious snack is another reason for it to be one of the best easy appetizer recipes you can make.
Creamy Ricotta Dip Ingredients
Mostly everyone I know needs to consume at least twice the vegetables they already do and with Chris and I being avid craft beer fans we try even harder to increase our daily intake. Always in pursuit of a balance between enjoying craft beer and health. Since we can only eat so much salad we frequently call upon healthy dips for vegetables.
I love to make this ricotta one because it can be so versatile depending on exactly what herbs and other ingredients I have on hand. You should consider the recipe as a not very strict set of guidelines.
Ricotta cheese. The fresher the ricotta – the better. Use whole milk ricotta. You can even make homemade ricotta if you have the patience, it’s very easy, see below.
Herbs. If you have fresh herbs on hand use them over dried ones. Complementary are oregano, basil, thyme, chives or garlic chives, rosemary (it can be a bit overpowering so add it with caution), mint, dill.
Olive oil. Extra virgin is by far your best bet. Its floral, earthy contributions shine in the company of ricotta.
Lemon zest and juice. Both the essence and acidity of lemons add to the overall balance of the dip.
Salt and pepper. Use coarse salt and white pepper if possible for its milder character.
Garlic. A clove of finely minced garlic lends a pungent savory depth to the dip yet remains hidden in combination with the herbs.
Umami taste contributing ingredients. Tried and true – an optional cured anchovy fillet and/or a preserved lemon rind or two are great allies when it comes to this dip. Even if your first reaction is to wrinkle your nose in distaste, I recommend that you give them a try. The anchovy contributes deep umami along with saltiness (absolutely no fishy flavor involved) and the preserved lemon rind adds intense lemony aroma and flavor that can never come from lemon zest alone. On top of that it has no bitterness at all, just a lovely lemony umami.
Other optional ingredients. Other favorites to fold into ricotta dip include finely chopped sun dried tomatoes, grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, smoked paprika.
How To Make Ricotta Dip
It really is as easy as mixing the ingredients together after you prep them and the prep work is minimal.
Mince the garlic (or use a garlic press) and finely chop the fresh herbs. If you will be adding anchovy and/or lemon rind you can use a small fork or pestle and mortar to press them into a paste (you can add the minced garlic to them as well, #2 above). Finally, zest the lemon.
Add all the ingredients to the ricotta and stir to mix. Taste and season with more salt and pepper or add extra lemon juice/any other ingredient as needed.
Uses & Serving Ideas
- The freshly mixed ricotta cheese dip is perfect served amidst a platter of fresh vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, lettuce. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top for visual effect and a flavor boost.
- Even though the official name is a dip, there is no reason not to use it as a ricotta spread. Its great over seed crackers, toast, crostini, pita chips, crackers, fresh baguette slices or other artisan breads.
- You can also spread it over rolled pizza dough and garnish with thinly sliced tomatoes, then bake.
- Use it as a pasta sauce – a favorite of ours is spaghetti, ricotta dip, halved cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers sliced thin and a drizzle of olive oil.
Baked Ricotta Cheese Version
If you are making ricotta dip during the colder months or simply crave a warm dip, enlist the help of an egg plus another cheese and follow these instructions.
Mix the dip as described above. Beat an egg and fold it into the dip. Transfer the mixture to a greased oven safe dish or small cast iron skillet and top it with grated Parmesan or another grated hard or semi-hard cheese. Mozzarella also works well here. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 375 F oven.
Make Fresh Ricotta in a Few Easy Steps
- For easy homemade ricotta simply bring half a pint of whole milk along with a cup of cream to boil (over medium heat, while stirring occasionally).
- Once its boiling add 3 tbsp of lemon juice and stir for a couple of minutes – the mixture will curdle. Remove it from the heat.
- Line a large sieve with a layer of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the curdled mixture over it and let it drain for about 1.5 hours or until the ricotta in the sieve reaches the consistency you desire.
- Once it does transfer the ricotta to a bowl and use immediately or refrigerate covered. Discard the liquid (whey).
Storage for Ricotta Dip
Use an airtight container to store leftover quantities in the refrigerator. To recover the creamy texture after you take it out consider using a hand mixer to whip ricotta with perhaps a tablespoon or so of heavy cream.
*These two ingredients if mashed into a paste and folded into the dip add umami depth and really boost the flavor base of the dip. Feel free to increase the quantities to taste. Other optional ingredients: sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, smoked paprika, olive tapenade, grated Parmesan or Pecorino. For instructions on how to make fresh ricotta at home or a baked version of this dip consult the relevant sections of the post for this recipe.
Serving Size: 1/3 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 696mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g
*These two ingredients if mashed into a paste and folded into the dip add umami depth and really boost the flavor base of the dip. Feel free to increase the quantities to taste.
Other optional ingredients: sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, smoked paprika, olive tapenade, grated Parmesan or Pecorino.
For instructions on how to make fresh ricotta at home or a baked version of this dip consult the relevant sections of the post for this recipe.