Planning to make an Italian casserole for your next meal? Great choice.
But what kind of cheese should you use? If you’re looking for a creamy and mild cheese, ricotta is a good option.
In fact, ricotta cheese is so versatile that you can use it in sweet or savory dishes.
And it’s not just for lasagna.
Ricotta can be used in pancakes, waffles, cheesecakes, and even pasta dishes.
But what does ricotta cheese taste like? Is it salty? Sweet? Bland?
Read on to learn more about the taste of ricotta cheese, as well as some tips on how to enjoy it.
What is Ricotta Cheese?
Whenever you come across an Italian recipe that calls for cheese, there’s a good chance it’s ricotta.
This unassuming white cheese is an essential ingredient in some of Italy’s iconic dishes, including lasagna, ravioli, and cannoli.
But what exactly is this cheese that’s so beloved by Italians (and non-Italians)?
Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese made from cow, sheep, Italian water buffalo, or goat milk.
It’s a soft cheese with a slightly grainy texture and a mild, sweet flavor.
Ricotta is typically used as a filling in savory dishes or as a sweet component in desserts.
Naturally, the cheese is soft; however, you can dry it in the oven or air-cure it to make it firmer.
Once the cheese is firm, you can grate it over pasta dishes or use it in baking recipes.
Fresh ricotta comes in two main varieties:
- Ricotta Romana (made from the whey of sheep milk).
- Ricotta di Bufala Campana (made from leftover whey of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana).
When it comes to aged ricotta cheese, you’ll find varieties of:
- Ricotta Forte (made from leftovers of sheep, cow, and goat milk ricotta).
- Ricotta Salata (salted and dried ricotta for shaving or grating).
- Ricotta Affumicata (smoked).
- Ricotta Infornata (baked).
What Does Ricotta Cheese Taste Like?
Ricotta cheese has a light, slightly sweet flavor that is often described as being similar to cottage cheese.
However, ricotta is usually smoother and creamier in texture than the latter.
They can also be used interchangeably in many recipes.
Besides, ricotta cheese is often used in baking and cooking because it melts easily and adds a creamy richness to dishes.
Its subtle flavor and low salt content also make it a versatile cheese that complements sweet and savory flavors.
However, keep one thing in mind, ricotta cheese doesn’t have a long shelf life.
So, it’s best to consume it within a week of buying it.
Otherwise, you can freeze ricotta cheese for up to 2-3 months.
- Nutritional Value of Ricotta Cheese:
Much like other types of cheeses, ricotta is a good source of protein and calcium.
It also contains vitamins A and B-12, phosphorus, selenium, and niacin.
Moreover, this cheese often frequents the list of the healthiest foods- thanks to its low sodium and fat content.
Not to mention, ricotta also comes packed with all nine essential amino acids needed by the human body.
How to Cook and Serve Ricotta Cheese?
Cooking with ricotta cheese is simple and versatile.
As mentioned before, you can use this cheese in both sweet or savory dishes, making it a great ingredient to keep on hand.
When cooking with ricotta, use high-quality cheese for the best results.
One of the most popular recipes that include ricotta is lasagna.
This classic dish can be made with a variety of different ingredients, but the addition of ricotta cheese helps to create a creamy and flavorful filling.
Want to try making a lasagna? Try this recipe here from TheKitchn.
Another great way to use ricotta is in pies and tarts.
The creaminess of the cheese results in a smooth and delicious filling.
Plus, you can sweeten up your ricotta by adding some honey or fruit, or keep it savory with herbs and spices.
There’s one thing to keep in mind while cooking with ricotta.
Unlike other cheeses, ricotta does not melt when heated.
So, if you’re thinking of baking your ricotta in the oven and expecting it to become gooey and melty, you’ll be sadly disappointed.
Instead, ricotta recipes often include the cheese in its raw state, stirred into the other ingredients, and then cooked together.
This helps to create a smooth and consistent texture throughout your dish.
As we have come to the end of our post, we hope you have learned a little more about ricotta cheese.
You should now know how to cook with it and what recipes to try out.
Just remember to pick the highest quality ricotta from a reputed brand, and you’re good to go.
Once you’re done using the ricotta, store it properly in the fridge.
When kept in an airtight container, ricotta cheese will last for up to a week in the fridge.