College Kitchen: Ricotta

A cheese that does it all

A fresh plate of ricotta gnocchi topped with rustic homemade tomato sauce.

Liam James Doyle

A fresh plate of ricotta gnocchi topped with rustic homemade tomato sauce.

Yena Lee

Savory or sweet, ricotta cheese is extremely versatile. Its uses range from pancakes to stuffed shells — a variety of delicious comfort foods.

Ricotta is available in just about any grocery store. You can buy some of the store-made stuff, or if you’re ambitious, you can make it yourself. Google a recipe and spend some time mastering the art of ricotta making — it’ll come in handy.

Ricotta cookies

The ricotta’s creaminess translates right into the cookie. The sweet glaze on top gives the cookies the perfect amount of sweetness.

1/3 cup butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
Zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of half a lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg, ricotta and lemon zest.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt into the mixture. Mix until the dough forms.
4. Form 1-inch balls, and space them a few inches apart on a baking sheet.
5. Bake for 15-17 minutes.
6. While the cookies are baking, make the icing.
7. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Make sure the consistency is runny but not too watery.
8. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes, then glaze them.

Ricotta gnocchi

Eating ricotta gnocchi is like biting into a cloud — it’s that fluffy. Unlike the traditional potato gnocchi, the ricotta gnocchi is very light. Try it with a browned butter sauce or a traditional tomato sauce.

16 ounces whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 teaspoon thyme and rosemary (finely chopped)
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (freshly grated)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated) (optional)
Zest of one lemon (optional)
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Strain the ricotta overnight in the fridge.
2. Lightly beat the two eggs, and mix them with the ricotta.
3. Add the finely chopped herbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, nutmeg (optional), lemon zest (optional), and mix well.
4. Add salt and pepper.
5. Incorporate the flour in three batches. The dough should be sticky and wet.
6. Flour the work surface, and work the dough.
7. Divide it into four batches, and roll each batch into a rope.
8. Using a lightly-floured knife, cut the ropes into bite-sized, gnocchi pieces.
9. Bring salted water to a boil, and toss a couple of pieces in at a time.
10. Once the pieces rise to the surface, take them out, coat them in sauce and serve.