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On Time & Toast | Whipped Ricotta Toasts

Whipped Ricotta Toasts | Delightful CrumbThis year has been moving quickly over here in my corner, but I’ve struggled to put my finger on why. I often mark seasons with trips, visitors and big events, and I’ve had few of these so far. The weather has been strange, slipping into warm spring temperatures for a day or two, then back to clouds and rain. People with kids often say that time moves more quickly when there’s a growing little one who physically marks the passage of time. While I have no doubt that this is true, I’m beginning to suspect that our experience of time also begins to shift around the ages and life stages when many have children. I imagine it has something to do with being several years from school or academia, accustomed to the routines of work, used to the way the week ebbs and flows, weekends like a rising tide.

I can’t say I’m comfortable with this sensation. I want to catch time, wrap my hands around my life and stare at it, see it, just for a moment, keep it from slipping through my fingers. And yet. We all know this is impossible.

More possible, though, is leaning into the moments that we do have, celebrating and enjoying time rather than seeing it as something we’re losing. And that, my friends, leads us to dinner.

We all have to eat, but dinner can be stressful and far from a joy. At the end of a long day or week, it sometimes feels like just one more thing to do. As for me, I generally enjoy making dinner and certainly relish the act of eating it, but the very idea of cleaning up can be too much to bear if I’m feeling weary.

Enter toast.

It’s no secret that I love a good slab of toast—and more specifically, a good slab of ricotta toast. But can you really blame me? It’s the easiest hack I know for making a dinner feel special, whether it’s the appetizer for a festive gathering or the main event for a quiet weekend dinner that I want to make special without too much effort. This version is one of my simplest yet. The ricotta preparation comes from the “Go-To Recipes” section that opens Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons. It’s a brilliant book all around, and there are lots of secrets tucked into this early chapter, building blocks to have at hand for easy, beautiful meals.

The first time I made whipped ricotta, I topped the toasts with a mixture of thinly sliced snap peas combined with lots of herbs, lemon and pistachios. That was lovely (and a little something like this—which strangely, serendipitously, comes with musings from two years back that have much to do with what I’ve said above). But the ricotta is luxurious enough on its own that I thought it deserved to star, as it does in the following recipe, in an even simpler preparation. Here, I suggest just flaky salt, cracked pepper and chives or another soft herb. You could also add chopped toasted nuts, a thicker layer of herbs, thinly sliced radishes, ribbons of zucchini or cucumber, that fancy salt lingering in your cupboard or slices of ripe tomato as soon as they hit the markets. Ultimately, the ricotta is rich and flavorful enough that it’s best to use simple, light toppings—or none at all.

As for other uses for the whipped ricotta, the possibilities are endless. Swipe it on a large platter before topping with any sort of salad. It would be lovely with thinly sliced fennel and radishes, roasted carrots or sweet potato topped with toasted nuts and/or seeds, a tumble of tomatoes with basil, a simple leafy salad. Add a dollop to liven up a green, lentil or grain-based salad at lunchtime. Use it as a rich dip for raw vegetables and thin toasts. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding ways to use this up!

But most importantly, relish it. Take an extra minute as you assemble dinner to rest in the goodness of the nourishing food on your table and the loved ones with whom you eat. When you sit down at the table, savor a bite to remind yourself you’re here, in the midst of your life—which is meaningful whether it feels that way or not. We do well not to miss the simple glory of being alive.

Whipped Ricotta Toasts | Delightful Crumb

Whipped Ricotta Toasts

Ricotta recipe adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole-milk ricotta cheese (I like Bellwether Farms ricotta, which is conveniently packaged in this amount)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Zest of 1 lemon, optional

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional

Sourdough bread

Flaky sea salt

Chives (or another soft herb), minced, optional

First, make the ricotta. Put the ricotta, salt, about 20 twists of pepper and the lemon zest, if using, in a food processor. Start to process. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil. Pause to scrape down the sides of the food processor and to taste the mixture. You want the flavor of the olive oil to come through. Adjust to taste with more salt, pepper or olive oil, then process again. When the ricotta tastes delicious and is silky smooth, scrape it into a bowl and set aside.

Then, toast the bread. Cut slices about one inch thick; halve them if very large or if appropriate for how you’d like to serve the toasts. In a cast iron or other heavy skillet, warm a generous pour of olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the bread in the skillet until it is dark brown, a couple of minutes per side, working in batches if necessary. Place the toast on a baking sheet to cool slightly, layering it with a paper towel if there’s any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt.

When the bread is cool enough to handle, top each slice with a generous sweep of the whipped ricotta. Finish with flaky sea salt, plenty of freshly cracked pepper and chives.

Leftover ricotta can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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