I really hate to waste food. It’s definitely a result of my upbringing. My grandparents were children of the depression and never threw anything away. Add to that, being fairly poor as a small child, and thriftiness was indoctrinated from a very young age.
So when I had 6 cups of whole milk left over from making the chocolate peanut butter ice cream, I was in a quandary as to what to do with it. We don’t normally drink whole milk (though I’m sure my husband would, happily) and I couldn’t let it go bad. I couldn’t make any more ice cream because frankly, I just don’t exercise enough to justify it. So what to make? Cheese was my final answer.
In addition, I don’t like to have to go shopping just to be able to make something (see my post on making a lemon blueberry tart). What was nice about this was that I didn’t have to go anywhere for anything in order to make the cheese or the pasta below. There are only 3 ingredients to make the cheese and I cheated a little by adding 2 cups of 1% milk in order to have 8 cups total. For the pasta, I used dried pasta from my pantry, home made marinara sauce which was in my freezer, mushrooms from the ‘fridge, and herbs from my garden. Basically, my version of the”Eating Down the Fridge” challenge.
8 cups whole milk
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp salt
Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth and place it in the sink.
In a 4 quart pot, bring the milk to a simmer and be careful not to scald or burn it. Also, be careful not to let it boil over in the pot; when it begins to simmer it will want to do this.
Once the milk has come to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and add the salt and stir. Add the lemon juice and stir. Curds should start to form within a minute or two.
Once the curds have formed, turn off the heat and pour through the cheesecloth in the strainer. Let drain for a couple minutes, up to 15 minutes. The longer you let it drain the firmer the cheese will get. Place in a bowl or invert onto a plate and chill in the refrigerator. Recipe yields about 12 ounces.
Options and Ideas:
Add garlic, fresh herbs, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to the cheese while it’s still warm to make a tasty spread for fresh bread.
Use the ricotta for your favorite ravioli filling or in a pasta (see below)
Sweeten the ricotta with a little sugar, add chopped chocolate and candied fruit and use it for a dessert filling for cannoli or Sicilian cakes.
Easy Pasta With Marinara and Fresh Ricotta
1 lb short pasta
20 oz Marinara Sauce
1 cup sliced mushrooms (or other vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, onions, etc)
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz fresh ricotta, crumbled.
1 oz fresh herbs, chopped
Cook the pasta and drain.
Heat a large saute pan with the olive oil. Toss in the mushrooms (and/or other vegetables) and saute until soft. Add the marinara sauce and heat until bubbling. Toss in the cooked pasta and combine with the sauce. Before serving mix in 3/4 of the fresh ricotta cheese and herbs, reserving some of each to garnish the top of the pasta.