I love baked ricotta, but not the bastardized versions blended with eggs and herbs I have seen for sale. I do not know where these originated – not in Italy and definitely not Sicily!
I like to make the authentic, baked ricotta – unadulterated, white and fresh tasting in the centre, with a golden-brown crust. I particularly like it as a first course accompanied by a tomato salad and presented as a light meal.
Purchase the solid ricotta, in Australia usually sold by weight from four kilo shapes . The creamy variety sold in plastic tubs is not suitable.
In Sicily the ricotta is drained (on a rack overnight in the fridge) and just rubbed with salt and baked slowly uncovered until it becomes a dark golden colour. Sometimes, olive oil is rubbed over the ricotta before the salt is added, but not always. I also like to add a few herbs for flavour at the bottom of the ricotta while it is cooking and sometimes pepper (or red chili flakes) but this is not strictly traditional.
ricotta, fresh and a solid piece
extra virgin olive oil, to coat the ricotta
herbs:¼-½ cup dried oregano, enough to sprinkle as a covering and on the bottom
fresh rosemary and/or bay leaves (optional) placed under the ricotta
black pepper, ¼-½ cup or dried red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon (optional)
salt (flakes or coarse), to sprinkle on top.
The following cooking time is for a piece of ricotta weighing about 1 kilo.
Pre heat your oven to 180 C.
Oil the bottom of a baking tray, place a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper, and oregano (also the bay leaves and/or rosemary if you wish to include these).
Place the lump of ricotta (or wheel) on top of the flavourings.
Oil, the ricotta lightly – use your hands to coat it.
Sprinkle with the salt (I use flakes) and oregano – use your hands to ensure that it is well seasoned.
Cover with foil and bake in a 180 C for 15 minutes . Remove the foil and bake uncovered until the it has just begun to turn golden brown – it may take about 40 minutes or more, depending on the size.
Allow to cool before eating.
Cover with foil – this dish will keep well in the fridge for 3 days. A perfect dish to prepare well ahead of time.
In a restaurant in Syracuse I was presented with warm baked ricotta sprinkled with a coating of toasted pistachio nuts.
To make this version, rub the ricotta with olive oil and a little salt. Add the nuts in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
It can also double up as a dessert if dribbled with honey.
7 thoughts on “RICOTTA FRISCA‘NFURNATA – RICOTTA FRESCA INFORNATA (Baked, fresh ricotta)”
My grandmother baked it, the we would use it grated over our pasta, nothing beats the smell in the house whilst baking, the warm pockets of oil inside…
MAMA MIA…memories just came flooding back! I’ve been trying to replicate ricotta infornata like I remember from childhood with limited success..
YES! Memories, thank you. Love it, miss it x
Thank you, most interesting. My dad lived in Adelaide and used to buy Ricotta that had been drained and salted and partially dried. He finished off the drying process in front of a cooling fan. We called this ricotta salata and this is what we grated on pasta. Sometimes my mum would colour it slightly by placing it in the oven. Congratulations for your determination.
When I was in Italy recently (near Naples) I bought some baked ricotta at the deli. Except it was a lemon flavoured one. It was so delicious!! We sort of ate it as a side dish after we finished eating as it sort of seemed more like a dessert..
The lemon colour seemed all the way through because normally when I bake the ricotta it remains fairly white in the middle.
Would you have any idea about how this would have been made?
This sounds wonderful! And like in the rest of the word Italian recipes are evolving. New twists, new flavours, processes that the nonne would be pulling out their hair about! Without tasting it I will not even try to guess, except that lemon peel plays a large role in recipes.
As for a baked lemon ricotta dessert – a standard staple recipe I make is a ricotta “cheesecake” …. it does not have a base or crust – just ricotta, egg yolks, almond meal, vanilla, lemon zest & juice, baked in a glass quiche pie dish – light, luscious and lovely ! And …. it keeps well in the fridge
Happy to share the recipe if anyone is interested !