Prep 35 mins
Cook 0 mins
From the LA Times, this salad is a taste of summer. Tomatoes from the garden or the farm market and ricotta you make yourself--yum! The directions look long--but it's really simple and you can take a shortcut and buy your ricotta, but do try making your own--it's really luscious. Prep time does not include time to cool the homemade ricotta. Note: If you have 'ordinary' balsamico, you can simmer it over medium low heat, uncovered, for a few minutes and thicken it slightly--it will taste much richer.
For the ricotta cheese
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
For the croutons
- 1 (5 inch) baguette
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
For the salad
- 3 -4 lbs heirloom tomatoes (select a broad variety)
- kosher salt (or fleur de sel)
- fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- 1⁄2 cup basil leaves, packed, torn
- For the ricotta:.
- In a heavy saucepan, warm the milk, buttermilk and nutmeg over high heat; stir the mixture frequently until it reaches 120 degrees (warm to the touch), about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Now stir occasionally; the milk will begin to separate; when it reaches 175 degrees to 180 degrees, about 1 to 2 minutes, gently scrape the bottom of the saucepan; the curds will rise to the top; cook at 180 degrees for 1 minute.
- Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl or pot large enough to catch the liquid from the cheese and pour the contents of the saucepan into the strainer.
- Gently stir in the Parmesan and salt while the mixture is still hot.
- Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and tie it up with string and let it drain for 15 minutes.
- Once the ricotta is at room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use (makes 1 cup).
- For the croutons:.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Tear the baguette into chunks, toss lightly with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 10 minutes until golden (makes 2 cups).
- For the assembly of the salad:.
- Cut the tomatoes (which you have NOT refrigerated)into different shapes and sizes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste; drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil; and arrange on serving plates.
- Drizzle the tomatoes with the aged balsamic vinegar.
- Scatter the croutons and torn basil atop the tomatoes.
- Top each salad with two quenelles of ricotta cheese (use two tablespoons to form the cheese into ovals, each about a tablespoon of cheese).
I tagged this to use up tomatoes. This was a "stepping out of my comfort zone" thing for me! I wasn't brave enough to try the homemade ricotta. Will save to try sometime. I did have regular balsamico, so tried simmering it, but ended up sticking it to the bottom of the pan! I added a bit of water to get some out. The salad was an interesting combination that I'm glad I tried, but might try without the basil next time.