Saturday, June 22, 2013

Greek Baked Ricotta with
Green Olives, Lemon and Oregano


We have been fortunate enough to have had some sunny days this week but with temperatures barely reaching double figures, the sun has struggled to make a dent on the temperature inside our freezing house. I envy those of you with good heating and insulation, and even more so, those of you in the midst of summer right now. But with our Winter Solstice ticking over yesterday it's comforting to know the days will now be getting longer, and hopefully warmer!


I find it fascinating that in some parts of the world the winter days can be as short as a few hours, and in summer the sun can shine for almost 24 hours. Here in Melbourne the earliest that we will reach darkness on a winter's evening is 5.30pm. It's way too early for my liking but I shudder to think how it must be for those living in midday darkness in the far northern parts of the world.

Perhaps we take for granted our relatively even days and nights here in Australia, but I always feel just a little bit happier once we get past our shortest day of the year.


It's hard to venture outside when it's so cold, but when it's colder inside your house than it is outside there's no excuse. So I layered up with a long-sleeved t-shirt, two jumpers and a puffy quilted jacket today and stepped out into the sunshine to take a walk down to our local grocery store. All I needed was some eggs but as usual, left the store with two bags of shopping. I just can't help myself. What can I say? I love grocery shopping :)

I've been wanting to make a Greek-style baked ricotta dish for ages. All the recipes I'd seen used chillies and basil to flavour the cheese. I needed to Greekify this one and I knew that the marinated green olives that some how found their way into one of my shopping bags today would do the trick. Along with some grated lemon rind, oregano and sharp cheese, I couldn't wait to see how this combination of flavours would come together in a fluffy little mound of golden baked ricotta.


Another dish I've been meaning to feature here on the blog is Fasolakia, or Green Bean Stew, which is one of my favourite Greek vegetable dishes. Usually served alongside meat, these beautifully tender beans make the perfect accompaniment to a protein rich serving of baked ricotta.

But you're going to have to wait for my next post to see the recipe for Fasolakia. Today it's the baked ricotta's turn to shine, especially since it came out so beautifully golden and delicious. Just like the sunshine today :)


Greek Baked Ricotta with Green Olives, Lemon and Oregano


The recipe for Fasolakia (Green Bean Stew) can be found here.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 600g firm ricotta cheese, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 20 pitted green olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Grease 6 small ramekins (around 8cm diameter) and line with baking paper, buttering baking paper as well. Make sure the baking paper comes up around 2cm above the rim of the ramekins.
  3. Blend ricotta, eggs, lemon rind, sharp cheese, oregano, olives, salt and pepper in a food processor.
  4. Spoon mixture into ramekins and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until ricotta has risen like a souffle and tops are golden.
  5. Remove from oven and allow baked ricotta to sink before removing from ramekins.
  6. Once cool enough to handle, turn ramekins out onto the palm of your hand – the ricotta mound should fall out easily.
  7. Carefully remove baking paper and serve with Fasolakia (green bean stew).


20 comments:

  1. You know Lisa, since discovering your blog I have had a ball creating your veggie dishes. Once again your pics are making me want to run to the kitchen and cook. These look yummo! As for Fasolakia......I love it. We tend to have it quite often. Who knew that this meat eater would be eating less meat these days. :-)

    Nancy

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    1. That's great Nancy! I'm so glad you're having fun with the recipes, and great to hear my blog is encouraging a reduction in your meat consumption! I would love to hear if you give baked ricotta a go. It's one of the easiest things to make :)

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  2. these look like the perfect comfort food during this very cold winter you are experiencing. olives are one of my greatest comforts. and i cannot wait for that green bean stew!

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    1. I love olives too, in fact I'm pretty much addicted to them for life I think. I've always got some in the fridge and can't help snacking on them every time I open the fridge door!

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  3. Sorry about the cold.. It's so hot here and I love it.. Your baked ricotta sounds so amazing, but I'm not sure I can get firm ricotta?? Looking forward to the Fasolakia dish.. it's one of my favorites. ( but I never had a recipe)

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    1. Oh Judee I wish I could be teleported to your part of the world for that hot weather!

      Here in Australia, packaged ricotta is quite watery and needs to be drained and compressed a little to make a successful baked ricotta. However, fresh pre-drained ricotta (available at some delis) is perfect for baking. It's firm enough to cut into cubes and still hold its shape, whereas our packaged ricotta is more like a spread.

      If your ricotta is on the runny side, you can easily drain it yourself by sitting a strainer over a large bowl, lining the strainer with cheese cloth or muslin cloth, and placing the ricotta over the cloth. Cover the whole thing with cling film and place in the fridge overnight. After taking it out of the fridge, bring the sides of the cheese cloth over to cover the top of the ricotta and press firmly to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

      Or, you can make your own ricotta which is really easy and is the best ricotta you will ever taste. You can find the recipe for home-made ricotta here on my blog in the Recipes tab, under "Appetisers, Condiments, Dips and Sauces" :)

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  4. Baked ricotta it would have to be one of the easiest things to make and exceptionally delicious I love braised vegetables, there is something so comforting about the super tender braised vegetable dishes of Greece and the middle east.

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    1. You're right Elizabeth, there are some absolutely delicious slow-cooked vegetable dishes in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. I love the aromas that linger in the kitchen all day while these beautiful stews are on the stove :)

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  5. Beautiful! I love ricotta, your recipes looks delicious :)

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    1. Thanks Ann :) I think you will love it baked too!

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  6. It is strange to consider parts of the world with huge differences in their daylight hours throughout the year. I caught a program late last night on ABC about a photographer who traveled up to Greenland to shoot landscapes and at one point the sun was setting at 11pm and rising again at 2am. By the end of his trip the sun wasn't even setting at all..so hard to comprehend!

    As usual, love your dish. Baked ricotta is definitely something I would like to have a go at making..if ever I get organised enough!
    Stay warm - it's all about layers and warm feet. :)

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    1. I saw that documentary too! That man is MAD. But what amazing photography.. And that time-lapse footage of the sun just going down past the horizon and straight back up again. Magic.

      Making baked ricotta with a home-made batch of cheese is the best :) I feel like a real gourmet cook making this stuff, except that it's too easy!!

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  7. These look to DIE for Lisa! I'll definately be trying these in my conversion attempts!

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    1. Thanks Amanda! I'd love to hear how you go!

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  8. You had me at olives. :) These look delicious--now I'm going to have to make some baked ricotta to go with my green beans! We used to live in an apartment that had pretty much no insulation and it was in Wisconsin, where winters are harsh. I used to walk around the apartment with gloves on. So I feel for you!

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    1. I have my gloves on now too - fingerless gloves so I can type!! Yep, olives get me every time too :)

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  9. Baked feta is one of my Greek favourite dish. This version is so beautifully shot!

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    1. Hi Daniela, I love baked feta too :)

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  10. What sharp cheese do you recommend in this recipe? Feta?

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    1. Hi Mary Lou. When I refer to 'sharp cheese' in a recipe, I just mean a sharp-tasting, hard Italian cheese like parmesan or pecorino. Keep in mind though (if you are a vegetarian) that most of these types of cheeses contain animal-derived rennet. I usually check the label for "non-animal rennet" in the ingredients. Feta would also work quite well with this recipe, and as a bonus, most fetas don't contain rennet :)

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