Slice the ciabatta bread into medium thick slices and place them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper to taste. Bake or broil in the oven until crisp and toasted (turn them over in the cooking process to toast both sides evenly.)
Slice the washed and dried heirloom tomatoes into thin, even slices and set aside in a large plate or bowl. Prepare the fresh basil leaves by pulling them off the branches and set aside.
Remove the ricotta from the fridge and let sit for a few minutes to remove some of the chill. Grate the lemon zest into a small bowl and set aside.
Once the ciabatta toasts are done and slightly cooled; assemble the tomatoes as you like and top with the ricotta, basil leaves and sprinkle of lemon zest. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. I enjoy this at all times of the day or evening, I have been known to eat this dish for breakfast when tomatoes are at their finest.
homemade ricotta cheese
Heat milk, salt and lemon juice in a medium skillet on medium heat until thermometer (frying thermometer is good here) reads 175 degrees. The milk will begin to bubble and start to form steam. Stir this mixture, but be very mindful not to over stir as you see the whey begin to form (you do not want to end up with ricotta that is too stiff.)
Once the whey has formed, pull off the heat and let this sit for 5 minutes undisturbed and you will be left with a very creamy positive result. Line a metal colander with clean cheesecloth and place over a large deep bowl. Add the mixture of curds and liquid to strain. Pull the cheesecloth together tightly and allow to drain for about 5 minutes or so (be sure not to remove too much liquid at this point.)
Remove the finished ricotta from the cheesecloth and serve right away or place in a well-sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
NOTE: I found this ricotta recipe after watching an episode of "Extra Virgin" on The Cooking Channel. I love that Gabriele and Debi made this with their girls so I adopted their recipe for our famiglia.