I’ve been a student for 9 of the last 10 years, and have worked full time for all but two of those years. I turned in and defended my thesis last month, and Friday was my last day at the office for four whole weeks.
Paul was away over the weekend, racing (and winning!) a crazy swim-run race in Switzerland, so I had a quiet weekend to myself. On Sunday morning I got out of bed, made some tea, and read a book (I just finished reading Wild, which I loved). As I sat in the quiet of my apartment it dawned on me that this was the first time in quite possibly an entire decade that I had literally nothing to do. No commitments. No responsibilities. No studying. No research. No thesis to write. No lunches to pack. No busy week to strategize for. No trip to pack for. Nothing.
It felt so good.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, it’s time for another instalment in the toast for dinner series!
This time we’re keeping it easy and summery with ricotta cheese fancied up with fresh herbs and whatever toppings your heart desires.
If you’ve got some extra time on your hands and you want a fun DIY project, you can make your own ricotta. It’s pretty much the easiest thing going, but you do need to babysit it as the milk boils. But please don’t feel that making your own ricotta is necessary for this recipe. The point is keeping it quick and easy, and although I do love making my own ricotta, I didn’t bother this time.
I’ll let you in on another secret: you don’t have to herb up the ricotta if you don’t want to. Sure, it’s nice, but there are those moments where we’re hardly capable of more than smearing some plain old ricotta on a cracker and calling that dinner. Judge not, it happens.
If you can muster it, a couple of handfuls of fresh herbs (I used basil and oregano from my balcony garden) roughly chopped and stirred into ricotta with a touch of salt and pepper is practically perfect.
Then all you’ve got to do is toast your bread (I’ve got a beautiful wholegrain beer bread going here), slather with ricotta, and dinner is ready.
You can, of course, go one step further and set out a selection of toppings. This would be the perfect thing to do family style: set out a bowl of ricotta and a platter of toppings so everyone can choose their own adventure. I’ve used sliced tomatoes with basil, cucumbers, and strawberries with a drizzle of really good balsamic vinegar; everything got sprinkled with a bit of flaky sea salt.
Other topping ideas? Sliced pickles, grilled vegetables, a drizzle of olive oil, melon, caramelized onions… what else?
Ricotta is an Italian curd cheese. Traditionally made from whey, a protein-rich by-product of making cheeses, ricotta means ‘cooked again’. Ricotta has a rich but delicate flavour and a grainy texture. The fat content can vary quite a bit, so if you’re watching your weight or cholesterol, you may want to choose part-skim ricotta. Ricotta cheese is rich in protein, calcium, vitamin A and B12.
Toast for dinner, previously: The Smashy Smashy
(You should also check out these gorgeous tartines from my friend Kellie with figs and labneh. She is a fancier lady than I.)
Three years ago: Baked Ricotta (and how to make your own ricotta)
Four years ago: Banana Spelt Weekend Muffins
- 250g / 1 cup ricotta
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
- salt and pepper
- 8 slices of whole grain toast
- Wash and roughly chop the herbs.
- Stir into the ricotta and season with salt and pepper.
- Toast bread, spread with ricotta, and top with any desired toppings.