Amanda & Merrill

Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest

May 11, 2010

Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest

- Merrill

I should probably be embarrassed by the following admission, but I'm not: anyone who has been to my apartment for drinks or dinner multiple times in the last few years has most likely had the same hors d'oeuvre more than once. The reason I'm not embarrassed? This particular hors d'oeuvre is, quite simply, good enough to eat every night. I'll admit that the concept was not my own, but hijacked from a favorite local spot in Brooklyn -- an unassuming neighborhood place called Lunetta, where the food is simple but carefully prepared, and the ingredients are always top-notch. The signature dish is a grilled slab of country bread that's rubbed with garlic, slathered with ricotta, drizzled with honey and finished off with a fine dusting of lemon zest. It's addictive. Even my fiancé, a self-professed hater of what he calls "uncooked cheese," has been known to nibble on occasion when I order one of these for my starter.

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A couple of things are key to the success of this simple recipe. First, the bread must be somewhat charred -- whether you achieve this by grilling or broiling is your choice and matters little. Second, make sure to use the best quality ricotta you can find. Here in Brooklyn, we have easy access to an incredible locally made version from Salvatore Bklyn. Wherever you are, seek out the best, creamiest (and likely the most expensive) ricotta you can get your hands on. You won't regret it.

Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest

Serves 8 to 10 as a pre-dinner treat

  • 1 medium loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch slices on the diagonal (halve the slices if they're big)
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 fat clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 cups high quality, smooth whole milk ricotta
  • Maldon sea salt or kosher salt
  • Honey
  • 2 lemons


1. Once your guests have been adequately plied with drinks and roasted almonds, or whatever else will buy you time, steal a few minutes for yourself in the kitchen or out by the grill, which should already be going strong. If you don't have a grill, set a grill pan over medium-high heat or turn on your broiler. Brush both sides of each slice of bread lightly with olive oil. Put the bread to the grill or griddle, and cook until slightly charred on each side, about 2 minutes per side; alternatively, broil the bread slices about 3 inches from the heating element, flipping them after about a minute and watching them like a hawk. When the bread is charred to your liking, remove it and rub the toasted sides lightly on one side with the cut side of the garlic clove.

2. To the side you've rubbed with garlic, add a generous smear of ricotta (best to leave it kind of messy and rustic-looking), then drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle a bit of honey over each bruschetta and use a fine microplane grater to grate a good amount of lemon zest over the top. Serve immediately. Be prepared to make another batch.


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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Emily February 9, 2011
finally found some high quality ricotta locally (i hate driving) and tried this last night. DELISH!!! Thanks, M!
Merrill S. February 9, 2011
You're welcome! So glad you liked it.
bonnie59 May 30, 2010
Oh, my goodness....I have made this everyday this weekend and am now officially addicted to this appetizer! Even my picky eater 14 y.o. daughter loves this recipe! I will continue to serve this to guests all summer long. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes.
dishelle May 16, 2010
I had something similar to this years ago at Becco, Lydia Bastianich's restaurant in Manhattan...just homemade ricotta in a bowl, drizzled with honey, lemon zest, plus a little fresh cracked pepped on top, too. It was so simple, yet very memorable. I'm excited to try it as bruschetta!
Merrill S. May 16, 2010
Never had it at Becco, but they serve something similar at A Voce here in NYC as well. It really doesn't get much better than this, does it?
drbabs May 14, 2010
Merrill, I got home late from work last night, and, inspired by this recipe, had ricotta on toast with honey and lemon. So delicious and satisfying! (will try orange next...) Thanks for sharing this.
Merrill S. May 16, 2010
You're welcome! And I love the idea of trying it with orange zest.
DCfoodgrl May 12, 2010
I'm cursing right now since I don't have what I need to make this NOW. I love honey with cheese (blue cheese and honey are my favorite). But this? It's a winner and I don't blame you one bit for serving it frequently. It will make an appearance at my place this weekend with the in-laws. 8 years into it and I'm still looking for ways to impress! Thanks!!
Merrill S. May 16, 2010
You're welcome! Hope it was well-received by the in-laws! Very important customers...
PrefersPie May 12, 2010
This would be a perfect reason to make your own ricotta!
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
If you haven't made it before, you should definitely try making your own! And then make these bruschette.
Denise May 12, 2010
I decided to try making my own ricotta yesterday afternoon via a Mario Batali recipe I found. It was pretty darn good. I made a cheesecake with it. It was so easy I know I'll make it again so I can prepare Merrill's hors d'oeuvre.
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
And so much fun, too, right? I was telling Amanda yesterday that my ultimate secret fantasy is to be a cheese maker. Some day, when I move to France (or Vermont) and can buy a little farm...
coffeefoodwrite May 12, 2010
Mmmm....would love to have the recipe for Mario's ricotta -- could you send me the link or post it? thx! Also, for all who are interested here is a link to New England Cheesemaking Supply Company who have a cheese making "kit" for mozzarella and ricotta.....
Denise May 12, 2010
ricotta recipe:
coffeefoodwrite May 12, 2010
drbabs May 14, 2010
Food52's enunn wrote the article about Mario Batali's homemade ricotta!
coffeefoodwrite May 14, 2010
ha -- just noticed that! how great! can't wait to try it....
fiveandspice May 12, 2010
Oh yum! I've recently fallen in love with ricotta - I'd never had it much before except in the occasional lasagna. I've discovered I like a simple bowl of roasted sweet potatoes with splats of ricotta on top. But this looks a divine use for it, definitely a perfect breakfast.
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
Wow, that sounds like a simply delicious combination. I'm adding it to my list of must-try-at-home recipes.
This looks wonderful!! And so easy! Can't wait to try it.
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
GoodFoodie May 11, 2010
Never heard of smoked ricotta. Anyone know how smoked ricotta is smoked?
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
Funny you should ask! Amanda included a recipe for smoked ricotta in a piece she wrote for the Times in 2007:
gluttonforlife May 11, 2010
I think you could make a delicious version of this with Salvatore's smoked ricotta which is truly divine.
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
I love their smoked ricotta -- it's so delicately smoked, which is rare.
melissav May 11, 2010
Yum-O! Sign me up for one of those.
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
Will do.
coffeefoodwrite May 11, 2010
Wondering if I can find a good goat or sheep's milk ricotta to make this with? Looks delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
I've made it with sheep's milk ricotta, and it's good -- different, and more tangy, but excellent.
Denise May 11, 2010
Oh yes yes--excellent ingredients, nice combination of textures, and simple preparation. This is for me!
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
Great, thanks!
mariaraynal May 11, 2010
Fellow food52er menumaniac and I became VERY distracted by this recipe today in a meeting when we were supposed to be paying attention to, um, our work!
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
My apologies! Ricotta can have that affect...
lastnightsdinner May 11, 2010
It's amazing how really great ricotta served simply can make for such a stunning appetizer. I make a version inspired by a ricotta bruschetta I had at Marlow & Sons, the ricotta topped with black pepper, thyme, and honey, but this sounds like a fabulous alternative.
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
LOVE Marlow & Sons. I'll have to try their version next time I'm there.
aargersi May 11, 2010
Lemon. Honey. Ricotta. Perfect storm of yum. (OK garlic bread and olive oil help too :-)
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
That's what I think too!
saenyc May 11, 2010
This looks great. May have to have a cocktail party just try it out!
Merrill S. May 12, 2010
Thanks! Let me know how it goes...
Rivka May 11, 2010
I'd say I make this (without the garlic, a genius addition) about 2x a week for breakfast. Definitely trying it with garlic next time. I use Maplebrook ricotta from VT -- it's about as creamy as it gets, and it tastes like good milk. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Merrill S. May 11, 2010
Yum! And you're very welcome. I love it for breakfast too, usually without the garlic!
mrslarkin May 11, 2010
Was just thinking the same thing - Breakfast!! (I might even do orange zest on mine.)