Ricotta is technically not a cheese at all, but a by-product of cheese. Its name, Ricotta translates to re-cooked, or cooked again and is made by the whey left over from the production of mozzarella, provolone and other cheeses. Ricotta is a fresh, creamy cheese with a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Ricotta is commonly used in Italian desserts such as cannoli and cheesecakes, makes an excellent component to brushcetta, has many uses in pastas, ravioli and lasagna, pizzas and calzones, and thickens sauces.
Historically, ricotta has been made from the whey that was left over from the process of making a cooked cheese. What to do with the whey has long been a question in the cheese world; many cheese makers of long ago simply fed it to their pigs, a practice still continued today. But somewhere along the line, someone discovered that the whey contained proteins and milk solids that would coagulate under high enough heat and with the presence of acid, and ricotta was born.
As with other cheeses, there is disagreement regarding the first historical appearance of ricotta. Some describes it as a "traditional, creamery, whey cheese made from cows' milk"; other sources insist ricotta was first made from the sheep's or goats' milk. One thing is certain: ricotta is a venerable food. Early mentions and depictions of the ricotta-making process go as far back as at least the 1100's. The cheese may be Italian in origin, but it also may have been made first in Greece.
- Beans, fava
- Fruits, dried
- Olive oil
- Vinegar, balsamic