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Pumpkin Lasagna With Homemade Ricotta Cheese

| 1/15/2013 9:06:28 AM

homemade pumpkin lasagnaThose of you who read my last post know that I recently made ricotta cheese at home. What I’ve learned since then is that you need to adjust for homemade ricotta in recipes. It turns out that this is not as easy as one might think.

I thought that to use my cheese well, I would first have to compare it to the kind we usually buy, so I conducted a side-by-side taste test. When I tried mine, it tasted of sweet, clean grass-fed milk, if a little dry. By comparison, the commercial ricotta was grainier and sweeter, and didn’t stick together in clumps. The main difference between them was the texture; I wasn’t sure how that would affect the recipe we were planning on using it in.

Next morning I ate a little bit of my ricotta with honey as part of my breakfast—but as soon as I started trying to combine it with the honey, I knew I’d made a mistake. It wouldn’t mix. I whacked it around with the spoon and glumly watched it coalesce into a gluey lump. The texture rather reminded me of mortar.

I finally managed to get it passably mixed and tried a bit. After the first bite I wasn’t sure if I’d used too much honey or too little—it walked a fine line between being chokingly sweet and flavorless. On my mother’s suggestion I tried adding salt, which she said would make it sweeter, but when I tried again it became clear that that wasn’t the problem.

Based on what I’d seen so far, I began to suspect I’d drained it a little too long, which lost both the moisture and flavor from the whey. I’m not discouraged—next time I make ricotta I’ll simply drain it for a shorter time—but I’m not sure I’ll try again to mix it with honey.

We planned to use my ricotta in a pumpkin lasagna we were bringing to a family dinner on Christmas. When we made the lasagna, my mother and I tried combining my ricotta with some sage butter she had made. They didn’t want to mix. My mother suggested we add a little olive oil to soften the ricotta, after which it worked nicely (and, when I sampled it, was delicious).

Donna Clawson
1/17/2013 1:45:45 AM

The finished lasagna looks delicious. I can see why it was eaten so fast. Yum...

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