Sometimes simple is best. Particularly in the summer.
Produce is at its best here right now and I’ve had a lovely time using fresh berries in cocktails and eating raw corn straight off the cob. But now, with August’s arrival, one of my summer staples are finally coming into their own: tomatoes!
Ryan and I first tried these precious heirloom varietals last week and were so impressed with their coloring and vibrant flavor that we knew we needed to use them again this week. This time, rather than working them into a dish, we decided to add a few accoutrements but otherwise let the tomatoes stand on their own.
Our main accoutrement: homemade ricotta cheese.
I first made some about a month ago and have been dreaming about it since. Creamy and spreadable, ricotta can accompany virtually anything and is surprisingly easy to make. In fact, you only need these things:
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Bring whole milk, cream and salt to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir every so often so the mixture doesn’t scorch on the bottom. Once mixture is boiling, stir in lemon juice and remove from heat.
Stir for 1-2 minutes, until curds form. Let pot rest, undisturbed, for five minutes.
Place four layers of cheesecloth in a colander set over a large bowl. After five minutes, pour cheese into colander and let strain for an hour. Discard the whey, or save it for other uses—my dog loves it poured on top of his dog food!
After an hour, you should have a cooled, creamy ricotta, perfect for tossing with pasta as we did or spreading on a baguette with honey, balsamic vinegar or just olive oil and salt—as we also did.
The finished product was tossed with campanelle pasta and those precious tomato specimens you saw above. After quartering the tomatoes, I let them rest for about 30 minutes with a healthy dose of salt and pepper. They were so incredibly juicy that they created their own sort of pasta sauce when combined with the ricotta.
Paired with the crisp citrus notes in a Sixpoint Bengali Tiger IPA, this dinner proved that you don’t have to spend a lot of money—or time—for a fresh, seasonal meal. Go see what your greenmarket has waiting for you!