Make Ahead

Ricotta with Honeyed Grapes

March 16, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

My husband and I went on a date a little while back to a new-ish Italian restaurant in the area. The food was all fabulous, but the thing that stuck with me was the bread we got before the meal. Not the bread, actually, but the fresh ricotta drizzled with a sweet-savory grape compote and olive oil that came with the bread. I would have been happy eating just that all evening. This is my attempt at recreating it. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Fiveandspice has created an irresistible starter that leaves little to be desired. First, she has you make a delicate white grape compote which, on its own, tends toward savory thanks to a healthy measure of minced shallots. However, once you dress the fluffy, creamy ricotta in the compote, add a splash of good quality olive oil for richness, slather the mixture on some crusty bread and balance the bite with a sprinkle of fleur de sel – absolute perfection. One bite is a swirling symphony of textures and flavors; I can see how she would have been happy eating it all evening -- I certainly was. - gingerroot —gingerroot

  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 cups green grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon honey (if your grapes are on the sour side, rather than sweet side, you might want to use 2)
  • 1 cup good quality fresh whole milk ricotta, homemade is best
  • 1 loaf fresh crusty Italian bread, sliced
  • really good floral olive oil
  • fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. In a smallish saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the grapes, honey, and white wine. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes, covered for 5 of them, stirring occasionally, until the grapes have collapsed. If it looks like it's drying out, add a splash of water. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. On a plate, mound the ricotta in the center. (Or divide it between 2 plates, one for each end of the table. Or you could even give everyone a little individual plate.) Drizzle generously with olive oil (a couple of tablespoons, at least). Then scoop the grape compote all over the top. Serve with the bread for spreading it on, and a finger bowl of the salt for sprinkling on top.

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Review
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.