What Is Ricotta Salata?

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Ricotta salata is an Italian cheese made from sheep's milk. It is known for its unusual taste, flavor and texture. The curds and whey from the milk are pressed and then dried quite prematurely. The pure white cheese has a dense, sponge-like texture and a salty, milky flavor. Ricotta is an Italian word meaning "recooked," while salata means "salted." Ricotta salata has a firm texture that makes it a favorite for tossing, grating, slicing and crumbling. It is used as an accompaniment to beans, fruits and grilled vegetables. It also is used in salads and sauces.

Cheese-making Process

Ricotta salata is usually made from whey that is a byproduct of the pecorino romano cheese-making process. The curds are put in a basket mold and pressed. Salt is added to extract moisture and make the curds compact enough to produce a uniform, dry, spongy texture. The salt gives the cheese its sharp taste. When cooked, ricotta salata tastes milky and creamy rather than cheesy. Ricotta salata is a spotless white cheese that looks yummy and tempting when paired with colorful vegetables and fruits.

Why Ricotta Salata?

Ricotta salata complements other foods wonderfully. It enhances the taste of the dishes, and it is quite affordable. It works well in combination with fruits and vegetables of all types. Because of its firm texture, it can be cubed, grated, sliced or shaved.

Serve It Cold

Try cold watermelon salad with ricotta salata, basil and pine nuts. Enjoy a cold kale salad with ricotta salata. Combine ricotta salata with sliced pears, segments of blood orange, fennel, parsley leaves and hazelnuts. Use ricotta salata as a topping on a salad of arugula, beets, apples and olives. Add ricotta salata to an herb salad made of chervil, tarragon, dill, basil, radishes, baby greens, chives and some lemon zest. Use it as a garnish for chilled cucumber soup.

Serve It Hot

Try Pasta con Zucchini e Ricotta Salata, a hot pasta dish made with fried zucchini slices and melted ricotta salata. Use grated ricotta salata over hot pasta with pea shoots, grilled radicchio and some lemon. Add it to diced potatoes, peas, beans, asparagus and zucchini with a buttery, garlicky lemon sauce. Try ricotta salata as a substitute for feta in burgers, sandwiches or scrambles. Use it in a side dish of roasted potato fingers, mint and fava beans. Combine it with wild mushrooms and artichokes.