While I had an amazing trip to Italy last fall, I have one major regret: I didn’t eat any cannoli there! Can you believe it? I went all the way there, and never got to try the sweet-ricotta-cheese-filled-fried-pastry delicacy in its homeland. Granted, I had a huge list of foods I wanted to try, including cacio e pepe, gelato, suppli, oven-fired pizza, bistecca alla Fiorentina, ribbolita and more gelato, so there just wasn’t time (or room in my stomach) for everything.
With no transition other than “ricotta!,” let’s talk about this fun little party appetizer. I’ve been noticing baked ricotta, whipped ricotta and other varieties of ricotta dip more and more on restaurant menus lately. Ricotta cheese is such a perfect starting point for a dip because it has a luscious creamy flavor on its own, but is also endlessly adaptable to whatever flavors you want to add to it.
With Meyer lemons nearing the end of their season, I may have bought too many Meyer lemons this week. To the tune of a HUGE bowl of them that is staring me in the face and making me feel guilty every time I open the fridge. I might need to make another batch of Candied Meyer Lemon Cookies, and it looks like this baked ricotta was destined to be flavored with Meyer lemon, too.
For this Meyer Lemon Baked Ricotta recipe, I stirred Meyer lemon zest and juice into a generous portion of ricotta. I added a little spice with both Dijon mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper (red pepper flakes would work well, too). For an herbal note, I used chopped rosemary and thyme. I prefer fresh herbs for this dish, but if you wish to use dried herbs instead, simply use half the amount that is called for.
I transfer the mixture to my adorable mini baking dishes that I am always itching to use, but one medium baking dish or several oven-safe ramekins would work just as well. If you’re making a large batch for a party, you could even use a small cast-iron skillet! Bake the mixture until bubbly, then finish with a drizzle of olive oil, some freshly cracked black pepper, and flaky sea salt. Serve this Meyer Lemon Baked Ricotta with crostini, crackers or vegetables.