Summer Ricotta Pie with Tomatoes and Basil
The taste of summer for me always includes juicy tomatoes and fresh cut herbs from the garden, especially basil. This savory pie is light and delicious and perfect for a summer luncheon or supper and you can serve this fella both warm and cold. Make it ahead and take it to your next picnic or family reunion and pair with a delicious glass of chilled white wine from one of our many wineries. My suggestion is a Viognier from Valley View Vineyard. Gosh, that sounds good right now!
1 pie crust (home-made or store bought)
1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese, drained
2 Tblsp butter melted, then cooled
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper (I like a good amount of fresh pepper)
6 cherry tomatoes
8 leaves basil for garnish
Place prepared pie crust in a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges. Put pie weights in the bottom of the pan so the pastry doesn't puff up. Blind bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes in the mid to lower part of your oven. Let the crust cool while you make the filling.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Drain cut side down on paper towels.
In a bowl, combine the the cheeses, eggs, basil, butter, lemon zest, and salt & pepper in a bowl and hand whisk until smooth and combined.
Place filling in cooled crust. Top with cherry tomatoes cut side down (you can substitute sliced garden tomatoes). Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minute or until golden and firm.
Let cool for ten minutes on a wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a garnish of fresh basil and a sprinkle of coarse salt.
If you desire a gourmet presentation, consider a drizzle of either olive oil or honey on each finished slice. Devine.
Items available at The Pot Rack to assist in the making of this dish:
Emile Henry Ceramic Pie Dish
Garlic Press Rocker
Stainless Steel Ball Whisk
The first ricotta pie I ate was in the East Village in New York City when I was a teen. I remember this well because I had ordered cheesecake at an Italian deli and what I was served was something quite different. The texture had a bit more of a bite and it was kind of fluffy. Less sweet. More savory. But not really. I was confused… and in love.
A lot of folks in the west think of ricotta as something best used in a lasagna. It’s interesting to note that lasagna was first served in Greece, and it didn’t involve cheese. Just flat sheets of pasta and sauce. During the Middle Ages, someone in Naples created something similar but used sausage, hard-boiled eggs and ricotta and called it “Lasagna di Carnevale.” The rest is history.
Now we know ricotta was not created for lasagna or even to be cooked. It was developed much earlier and was served frequently in ancient Rome and it was popular with the wealthy as well as with peasants. Why? Because it could be made easily by using sheep’s milk, and it had to be consumed quickly. Shepherds created their ricotta by boiling milk in clay pots out in the fields. They would simply smear the warm cheese on a piece of bread. But the Roman aristocracy kicked it up a notch and drizzled on honey or fine olive oil and added salts, spices, and herbs. And as much as I love this ricotta pie recipe, my favorite way to eat ricotta is the way the early Romans did—a little schmear on toast and some goodies on top!