Before chef Andrew Carmellini left A Voce in June to develop his own restaurant, the most popular dish on his menu there was also the simplest: a bowl of fluffy ricotta cheese, drizzled with olive oil and served with a side of grilled Italian bread.
The recipe for this irresistible appetizer embodies Carmellini's approach to his first cookbook, Urban Italian, released today. He began working on the book in his small Manhattan kitchen, when he found himself in between jobs in 2003. Confined to the space and tools of an average home cook, Carmellini perfected a collection of dishes that are sophisticated, yet easy enough to cook on any given weeknight, in even the most microscopic space.
Test-drive Urban Italian with this superfast recipe. Carmellini's secret ingredient is sheep's-milk ricotta, which is richer and tangier than the cow's-milk version. It's also more difficult to find, but you can get it at Buon Italia, DiPalo's and from the Dancing Ewe Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Fridays.
Sheep's-Milk Ricotta Antipasto
Adapted from Urban Italian
Makes 6 servings
2 cups sheep's-milk ricotta
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano, on the branch if possible
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Grilled Italian bread, for serving
1. Beat the ricotta and the milk together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a medium bowl with a whisk) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the fine sea salt and mix well.
2. Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Generously sprinkle the sea salt, pepper, thyme and oregano over the top.
3. Top with the olive oil, which will settle on and around the cheese. Serve with grilled bread.
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