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Ricotta cheese is similar to, but smoother
than, cottage cheese. Most Italian ricottas
are prepared from the whey drained off
while making cheeses such as mozzarella.
Technically, it is really a by-product. The
word ricotta means ‘recooked’ as the
cheese is prepared by heating the whey
from another cooked cheese.
Because of its blandness, ricotta is best
combined with other flavours. This low
Delights with a difference
fat cheese is excellent in various ethnic
recipes, particularly Italian, and can be
laced with brandy or rum or sprinkled with
cinnamon and/or chocolate and served
with fruit; use in cheesecakes in place of
cottage cheese; or combine with chutney
for a spread.
Mascarpone is a thick, indulgent, soft
cream cheese and is traditionally used in
the Italian dessert Tiramisu. Mascarpone
is excellent in cheesecakes, baked custard
tarts, over fruit or in ice cream. It is an
ideal accompaniment for your favourite
cake. It also complements savoury foods –
blend with a little pesto for a spread or dip;
combine with salmon and lemon juice as
a filling for tomatoes; or spread on a pizza
base in place of conventional cheese.
Mascarpone looks a little like crème
fraiche but has less fat – about 35 per
cent – and is less acidic.
Store these fresh cheeses – ricotta and
mascarpone – in the refrigerator and once
opened, use within seven days.
6 tablespoons extra
virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup walnuts, coarsely
salt and freshly ground
black pepper to taste
2 small pears
4 cups rocket
1⁄2 cup croutons or Vita
Wheat rosemary grain
Mascarpone with Walnuts, Pears & Rocket
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan
on medium-low. Add the walnuts and
fry until lightly coloured. Lift out with
a slotted spoon and drain on paper
towels. Reserve the oil.
Combine the warm walnuts with the
Finely grate the rind of half a lemon
and add to the mascarpone with a
squeeze of lemon juice. Season.
Halve the pears and scoop out the
cores with a melon baller or teaspoon.
Thinly slice the pears lengthwise and
fan onto four serving plates. Sprinkle
with a tablespoon of lemon juice.
Place 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in
a bowl. Gradually whisk in enough of
the reserved oil to make a dressing.
Place spoonfuls of the mascarpone
mixture beside the pears plus some
rocket. Sprinkle the leaves with the
dressing and garnish with the croutons
or grain sticks. Serves 4 as a starter or
Prepare ahead – great for entertaining.
500g ricotta cheese
100g parmesan cheese freshly grated
1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4-5 cups good pasta sauce
10, 17cm x 12cm sheets dried lasagne
Wash spinach and remove roots or coarse
stems. Chop finely. Place in a large saucepan
and add 3-4 tablespoons of water. Cover and
steam, until wilted. Cool then squeeze dry.
Place the ricotta, 1 cup of the parmesan, the
eggs, parsley and pepper in a bowl. Mix well
then add the spinach.
Place a cup of the pasta sauce in the base of a
lightly oiled pan, about 30cm x 20cm.
Bring a large frying pan of water to a simmer.
Reduce the heat. Working in batches, soak the
lasagne sheets for about 5 minutes, until soft
enough to roll.
Place a 2 spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture along
the length of each piece of lasagne and roll
up to make a (cannelloni) tube. Place in the
pan. Cover the tubes with the remaining pasta
sauce and parmesan cheese. At this stage the
dish may be refrigerated for up to 8 hours or
overnight before baking.
Preheat the oven to 190oC. Bake the cannelloni
for about 30 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes
before serving. Serves 4-5.
Mascarpone Ice cream
1 cup plain yoghurt
3⁄4 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons orange liqueur or similar, optional
1⁄2 cup milk
Whisk the ingredients together, until well blended.
Freeze in an ice cream maker or place in a bowl,
cover and freeze until almost solid. Beat well then
return to the freezer. Excellent served with berries
or kiwifruit. Serves 6-8.
Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni
Quick Ricotta &
300g dried fettuccine
1⁄4 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 packet cherry tomatoes, halved
50g packet fresh basil leaves, torn
extra herbs to garnish
Cook the fettuccine according to the packet
Toss the fettuccine in the olive oil and season. Add
the remaining ingredients and toss again. Garnish
with herbs. Serves 4.
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