I don't remember which Little Italy Mario was visiting when I spied him on t.v. eating a ricotta sampler, each fresh-made mound doused in three different toppings. Inspired by that moment, I've been eating this combination for the past few days. The toast crusts are inspired by Wave Hill Bread's Just Crusts. By all means, buy those if you're pressed for time - they are super delicious and highly addictive. - mrslarkin —mrslarkin
Test Kitchen Notes
This lovely concoction caught my eye the minute it was posted. I had a feeling it might be interesting for an hors d'oeuvres buffet, and I believe it will be! It was almost unbelievably simple to prepare, and I even made my own ricotta. Each of the 3 toppings is utterly unique in flavor and visually beautiful. I had expected to prefer the fig preserves with red chili flakes (you know, that sweet, hot, hot thing), but in fact I kept going back to the lavender and salt over honey—it’s amazing, and not a combination I would have thought of. Thank you so much, mrslarkin! - boulangere —boulangere
4 or more
very good quality whole milk ricotta (I use Calabro brand)
acacia honey, or other mildly-flavored honey
coarse sea salt
lavender dust (ground dried culinary lavender)
fig preserves, stirred until smooth-ish (I use Bonne Maman)
crushed red pepper flakes
aceto balsamico tradizionale (or you can reduce some regular balsamic to a syrup)
fruity olive oil
meyer lemon, orange, or lemon zest (or a mix)
day-old crusty loaf of bread (I use a loaf of Wave Hill Bread's Pain de Campagne)
FOR THE TOAST CRUSTS: Cut loaf in half width-wise. On a cutting board, stand the half-loaf up cut side down. With a serrated knife, shave off the crust of the bread into long strips. You want about a 1/4" thickness on the strips. Not too thick. Move the loaf around and continue until all you are left with is the inner core of the bread. Reserve inner core for croutons. I shave the whole loaf, the darker bottom too.
Cut the strips into roughly 2" pieces. You'll have about 3 to 4 cups of crusts. Place crusts in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle on salt to taste. Toss until well coated.
Place crusts on a sheet pan and bake about 10 minutes, or until dark and toasty, but not burnt. Keep an eye on them! When done, remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or zipper freezer bag.
FOR THE RICOTTA TRIO: With a large ice cream scoop dipped in warm water, place a scoop of ricotta on three plates. If you are making just one serving, you'll have leftover ricotta.
Drizzle one scoop with honey. Sprinkle coarse sea salt and lavender dust over.
Spoon another scoop with fig jam. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes to taste.
On the last scoop, drizzle with Balsamico Tradizionale and olive oil. Grate some fresh zest over top.
Alternatively, divide the pound of ricotta among three plates. Continue with step 6.