Baked Ricotta with Cherry Tomatoes & Pignoli Granola
By Matthew Accarrino
Matthew Accarrino’s Baked Ricotta with Cherry Tomatoes
- 3 cups drained ricotta
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino
- 2 eggs
- 1/8 cup heavy cream
- 1 scant tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 teaspoon kosher salt
- a nutmeg for grating
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons simple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 scant tablespoon quick-cooking oats
- a pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of coarse sea salt
- 5 to 10 basil leaves, torn
- about 1/2 cup purslane or sunflower shoots
- extra virgin olive oil
- saba for finishing
- kosher salt
SERINGS: 6 TO 8
To make the ricotta
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the dish, and line it.
In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, pecorino, eggs, cream, olive oil, salt, and 10 gratings of nutmeg until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a water bath for 45 minutes or until the ricotta has set firmly in the center. Uncover and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. The top may rise in the center as it cooks, but it will fall back down as it cools.
With the tip of an offset spatula, loosen the edges of the ricotta. Turn a baking tray or platter upside down and press on top of the baked ricotta dish. In one smooth motion, pick up the dish and the tray, and invert on the counter. Unmold the ricotta. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely firm and cold, about 6 hours or overnight.
Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the ricotta into 1 1/2-inch-wide strips. Cut the strips into 5- to 6-inch rectangles. Using a spatula, transfer the rectangles to the foil-lined baking sheet. You will have 8 to 10 rectangles.
To make the granola
Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until fragrant. Pour the pine nuts on a cutting board. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut the pine nuts in half. In a small bowl, mix together the simple syrup, olive oil, and honey. Add the pine nuts and oats and season with a pinch of salt.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a nonstick silicone sheet. Scatter the granola onto the sheet and bake stirring once, 15 minutes. Cool completely.
To make the tomatoes
Score the bottom of each cherry tomato gently (just through the skin) with an X, taking the cuts more than halfway up the side. Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Line a platter with paper towels. When the oil reaches 375°F, gently drop a few cherry tomatoes in at a time and fry until the skins loosen, 10 to 15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, lift the tomatoes out of the oil and drain on the paper towels. Season with coarse sea salt. Repeat until all the tomatoes have been fried. Let cool and peel the skins upward to expose the flesh. Scatter the basil leaves over the tomatoes and drizzle fresh olive oil lightly on top.
Preheat the oven to broil. Put the foil-lined baking sheet with the ricotta in the oven and broil until the tops begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.
In a small bowl, season the purslane or sunflower shoots with a few drops of olive oil and saba. Season with a pinch of salt and toss.
Using a spatula, divide the ricotta onto plates. Spoon the cherry tomatoes on the top and on the sides and scatter the greens over the top. Crumble the granola across each plate and finish with a drizzle of saba.
Reprinted with permission from SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine, by Shelley Lindgren and Matthew Accarrino with Kate Leahy, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Photo credit: Sara Remington © 2012