Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ricotta Cheese...Which To Use

There really is only one rule of thumb when it comes to using different types of ricotta cheese. The less fat it contains, the less flavor it will have.....but not enough for you NOT to replace it in almost all recipes. You may also find the whole milk ricotta to be more creamy, but again, if using with other ingredients, which is generally the case, then you would never miss it. When was the last time you sat down to just a spoonful of ricotta?

Believe it or not, ricotta cheese is considered a fresh cheese because it isn't ripened. It is simply the by-product of cheese making. The leftover whey is heated and the proteins are curdled and strained, often with the addition of an acid such as rennet, vinegar or lemon juice.

The name ricotta literally means recooked, as seen above.


Let me give you a rundown of the dietary facts on the different styles of ricotta.

Per 1/4 cup:

Whole Milk Ricotta:

Total fat-6g
Saturated fat-4g
Trans fat-0
Calories from fat-50
Total calories-90

Part Skim Ricotta:

Total fat-4.5g
Saturated fat-3g
Trans fat-0
Calories from fat-45
Total calories-70

Light Ricotta:

Total fat-2.5g
Saturated fat-1.5g
Trans fat-0
Calories from fat-20
Total calories-60


Fat Free Ricotta:

Total fat-0g
Saturated fat-0g
Trans fat-0
Calories from fat-0
Total calories-50

Want to look into something the science community is investigating in depth? It appears that whey, or whey protein, just may be one of those "miracle" items that may stave off much more than originally thought. Maybe these body builders are onto something as they swig down their whey drinks or munching on high protein bars.

Now that I have given you the low down of ricotta cheese, here are two recipes using this fresh cheese. One of them uses full fat while the other is fat free.


Blueberry-Ricotta Parfaits

Such a great way to for a fat free parfait. I use frozen blueberries here because you really need the soft texture as well as any accumulating juice that usually accompanies frozen berries.

2 cups frozen blueberries, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons honey
1(15-ounce)tub fat free ricotta cheese
1 cup plain yogurt

Place half the blueberries in a small saucepan and toss with cornstarch. Leave remainder of blueberries out to thaw. Add honey to blueberry/cornstarch mixture and stir to combine. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue cooking and stirring until thick, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.

Add ricotta cheese, thawed blueberries and yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse, on high, until as smooth as possible. You can also use an electric mixer with a paddle or beaters.

To serve, halfway fill serving glass with cheese mixture. Place 2 tablespoons chilled blueberry mixture on top and repeat with remaining cheese and blueberry mixtures. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Makes 4 small parfaits.


Real Vanilla 'Creme'  
I use whole milk ricotta because of the lack of other ingredients. And as you may notice, I use a vanilla bean. I do realize they are super expensive, but the flavor you get from just one bean will make you a convert as well. This Creme is great simply spooning it into your mouth or as a dip from an apple, peach, fresh berries to your fingertips.

1(15-ounce)tub whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups plain, or flavored, yogurt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped *
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh fruit of your choice, if desired

Place the ingredients in your food processor bowl. Process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Serve in small, 1-cup dessert bowls or ramekins.

* Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise. With the blade of a knife, scrape the seeds from the pod into the cheese mixture. You can also use 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

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