These recipes were often created out of necessity; peasants would take items that Italian nobles would throw out and instead turn them into dishes that have now become hallmarks of Italian cuisine. Ricotta is no different!
Technically not a cheese, but a creamy curd, Ricotta means “twice cooked.” Ricotta is made from the whey that is leftover from making other cheeses (often mozzarella or provolone).
While Ricotta’s exact origins are fuzzy, it’s believed to have been created by travelers camping in the countryside. After they had cooked their cheeses in big kettles over the campfire, they decided to experiment, seeing if they could make anything from the leftover whey. Happily, they were successful. And Ricotta was born!
Over the centuries, ricotta grew in popularity until it eventually became regarded as a special food to be served to important guests (ironically, being fed to nobles who had once regarded it as waste).
This beautifully simple recipe requires few ingredients, letting each sweet and salty element shine through. You can also make this recipe as a summer dip, serving it with herbed crackers or veggies.