This is the question-if you decide to fry ricotta cheese, do you make it a savory appetizer or a sweet dessert? That was the decision we had in front of us and so we decided to do both in the same meal. This means we started off our little dinner party with a savory fried ricotta dish and ended the meal with the same fried ricotta made into a sweet dessert. Most people equate fried cheese to the fried mozzarella sticks you get in your typical bar or tavern fare. However, our Italian recipe for fried ricotta, known as ricotta fritta, has a subtle texture and flavor that works better being turned into a first course or dessert than its more famous mozzarella cousin. The creamy texture of the ricotta fritta also cannot be beat. So here is our recipe for ricotta-two ways.
- 15 ounces fresh ricotta , drained overnight
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- Fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups fruit jam or preserves (I used a jar of cherry preserves)
- 1 cup whipped cream
Put the drained ricotta in a bowl.
With an ice-cream scoop, scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of ricotta, and set them on a parchment-lined tray or sheet pan (you should have about twenty-four ricotta balls total). Set the tray in the freezer, and chill the balls until firm, about 30 minutes.
Spread the flour on a small plate and the bread crumbs on a large plate. Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt in a wide, shallow bowl.
Dredge the balls in the flour and gently flatten them into thick patties. Coat the patties in egg, then dredge them until well coated in the bread crumbs, but not heavily so. Return the breaded patties to the parchment-lined tray.
When you are ready to fry the patties, pour the vegetable oil in the skillet and set over medium heat. The oil is ready when the tip of a patty sizzles on contact. Drop the patties into the skillet in batches, so they are not crowded, and fry for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Lift them from the skillet with a slotted spatula and drain briefly on paper towels. Serve ricotta fritta while still hot.
For a savory appetizer or main course: spoon a pool of hot marinara sauce onto each serving plate, set 3 fried patties in the sauce and scatter basil on top.
For a dessert dish: top 3 patties with warmed preserves (or any fruit jam or poached fruit) and whipped cream.
In our little experiment, we found we liked the sweet version the best which is surprising because most of us at the dinner are not real dessert lovers. Somehow the sweet taste of the preserves and cream played nicely off the creamy and tangy flavor of the fried ricotta. Don’t get us wrong….there wasn’t any of the savory fried ricotta left over, so it must have been a crowd pleaser as well. We’ll definitely be giving this versatile dish another go in our kitchen. We hope you will too. Do you have any cheese recipes that you use for dessert or for an appetizer that you would like to share?