Ricotta is a fresh cheese with a smooth texture that lacks the creaminess and calories of cream cheese. The trick to creating a cream sauce with ricotta is to beat the cheese with milk or pasta cooking water. Beating the cheese breaks it down and creates a smooth, lump-free texture that mimics the silkiness of cream sauces. Once you have your sauce, the possibilities are endless.
Ricotta Cream Sauce for Pasta
Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the vegetables turn translucent and limp.
Add the ricotta cheese and milk to the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium, slowly warming the sauce.
Vigorously whisk the cheese and milk together until the sauce becomes smooth and looks like whipped cream.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil to warm or pour the sauce over the pasta and top with the Parmesan cheese and basil.
Ricotta in Chicken a la King Sauce
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and celery and cook until the vegetables become limp.
Add the ricotta cheese and milk to the vegetables, and beat the mixture with a whisk until smooth.
Put the frozen peas, pimentos and diced chicken into the sauce and heat over medium-low heat until the sauce and ingredients are warmed through.
Serve the chicken sauce on top of the cooked rice for a Chicken a la King dinner.
Use an immersion blender instead of a whisk to beat the ricotta cheese and milk in the saucepan to save time.
Vary the cream sauce with additional ingredients. Add roasted garlic instead of sauteed garlic, or blend in chopped spinach during the last part of cooking for a creamy spinach sauce.
Try replacing the milk or pasta cooking water with warmed white wine, chicken broth or melted butter. These changes will add more flavor to your sauce without changing the texture as vegetables.