I love ricotta anything! So if it has ricotta cheese, I will probably love it!
I stumbled upon a version of this recipe last year, and as I usually do, I tweak it a bit till it’s, well perfect to my taste buds and to others that have eaten it at my home.
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So let’s get cooking!
1 – 15 oz of Ricotta Cheese
2 Lemons – Lemon Zest of one lemon and lemon juice from two lemons
5 to 6 leaves of Mint Fresh
1 Tablespoon (or to your liking) of crushed red pepper or in a jar with olive oil Crushed Hot Chile Peppers
4 to 5 Yellow Squash
4 to 5 Fairy Tale Egg Plants (if you want to add variety)
1 Loaf of Ciabatta Bread or Italian Bread
3 Medium to Large Garlic Bulbs
1/2 teaspoon of each Dried basil, oregano, rosemary
1/3 cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin (have more readily available)
Black Pepper and Salt to taste
6 – 8 Slices of Prosciutto – Optional
Start Preparing and Cooking:
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
Take your three Garlic bulbs and cut off the top to expose the meat of the garlic cloves, approximately 1/4 of the bulb. Peel excess skin off only the edges of the bulb then you can spread out the cloves a little bit. If some break off it’s ok just let them cook with the rest of the garlic.
Use a large garlic baker or a cooking pan preferably stone, but not a must. Take foil if using just a pan and put enough on the pan to make a pouch with the garlic in it. Place garlic with the inside exposed part facing upward. Then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of each Dried basil, oregano, and rosemary. Wrap up in foil not tight, just enough to seal the top.
Cook for approximately 40 minutes, check to see if they are soft and a bit golden brown which gives it the caramelized flavor and even more delicious.
After the garlic is in the oven, then start working on your squash and eggplant or just squash.
Wash and dry your squash/eggplant then cut in half lengthwise and then in chunks of about 2 inches each.
In a colander place, your squash/eggplant cut part facing up generously sprinkle with Kosher Salt. Set the colander on a large plate because the liquid will drain from it.
Let it sit till you see them sweat out all the moisture as much as possible, approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Then take a paper towel and dry off and dust off the extra salt.
In a cast iron pan it can be flat surfaced, or a grill pan, heat up till its very hot. (warning: cast iron gets very hot so have a cover for the handle).
Drizzle olive oil in the hot pan (do not use a lot of oil, it will make squash soggy) and then place your squash in the pan to sear it till it browns then flip it. Once both sides are brown turn down the heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan and let them cook till tender, approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, stick a fork in a piece to see how tender they are, when the fork goes in smoothly take out of the pan and set aside to rest.
While your squash and garlic are cooking in a mixing bowl take 1/2 cup of olive oil, red crushed chile peppers mix them up. Then take your leaves of mint and hit them a few times on the side of the bowl to let the oils out. Then place the sprig of 4 to 6 leaves on it and place in the bowl with olive oil and chile peppers. Squeeze half of one of the lemons into this dressing, use a juicer, so no seeds go in your dressing. Then mix thoroughly, set aside.
In a separate bowl take your Ricotta Cheese and take the zest of one lemon and mix into your ricotta. Set aside.
By this time your garlic should be ready. Take out of the oven and let it sit before you open the foil, be careful of any steam so you don’t get burnt.
While the oven is on, place your hazelnuts in the oven on a piece of foil after coating them with some olive oil. Roast till brown at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. After they come out of oven I like to cool then crush them with a meat cleaver to crunch them into smaller pieces.
Take your Ciabatta or Italian bread and cut into thick slices around 2 inches each slice. Cut in quarters and take olive oil and brush a little on each piece and then spread a thin layer of the roasted garlic on it. Then spray or brush on some olive oil on the same pan you cooked the squash. The pan should be relatively dry from the cooking of your squash/eggplant. I like to get my bread toasty brown, grill them till at least they are light brown.
Time to Assemble Your Ricotta and Squash Dish
Once you have all your ingredients ready, then take the mint sprig out of your dressing. You can use it for garnish as I do.
Take a large serving platter and spread the ricotta and lemon zest mixture in a large circle, then place your squash/eggplant on top. Drizzle dressing on the whole dish, and you can add extra freshly squeezed lemon juice on top or have wedges for others to use at their discretion.
Take hazelnuts and sprinkle them on top of ricotta squash mixture or have them in a bowl on the side so each can choose to add them to their own dish if they prefer them. Have salt and pepper readily available for your guest.
Serve the bread and extra roasted garlic on the side for those garlic lovers like me for an additional spread! I like to take this dish by the spoonful and place some on my bread and eat it like a slice of pizza! It’s so delicious! I do serve it sometimes with Procuitto on the side and sometimes without. Either way, it is scrumptious!
If you like to drink a glass of wine with your dinner. This is one of my favorite bottles of wine that I bought when shopping at my local Italian Market, Capri Flavors. This wine reminds me of what I drank in my earlier years with my grandmother. Red wine deep red in color with a hint of purple and a rich flavor yet smooth with a slight cherry taste easy to the palate, a little dry. I like having a glass of this Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo with this dish.
Let me know when you try this dish and what you think of it!