When we first moved from the northeast (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania area) to Texas, we quickly realized an Italian Market was hard to come by. While we could easily buy fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh ricotta cheese was impossible to find. Growing up, there was an Italian Market in practically every town, and if you wanted fresh ricotta cheese you just went into the market and bought some. It was always made fresh daily.
The first time I tried to make lasagna in Texas I was greatly disappointed. I made the mistake of using the only ricotta cheese I could find, which was in the dairy section of the local grocery store. It takes nothing like fresh ricotta cheese. It is full of chemicals, such as xanthan or other gum-like preservatives which I learned are needed for the cheese to hold its shape and not spoil. Lasagna should be light and flavorful, and anything other than fresh ricotta cheese makes the lasagna taste funny and very heavy.
Since I could not find fresh ricotta cheese in Texas, I researched how to make my own. And I was shocked at how easy it is to make and how delicious it is when you make it yourself. It is extremely versatile, and we use freshly made ricotta cheese to make lasagna, cannolis, stuffed pastas, baked ziti, and Italian-style cheesecake, just to name a few. Its even delicious to eat on its own (in small, healthy quantities, of course).
I promise you, once you make your own fresh ricotta cheese, you'll never buy that container from the grocery store again.
Video Tutorial (Season 1, Episode 4)
Here is a video of our family making homemade ricotta cheese. Honestly, my kids don't like the taste of cheese by itself, but you put it in something like homemade tortellini and they will eat every last bite.
Here is a link to the recipe made in this video: https://www.ardolinoskitchen.com/the-kitchen-table/italian-staples/family-secrets-homemade-ricotta
Tips, Tricks, and Essentials
For tips and tricks cooking with children, read our post here: https://www.ardolinoskitchen.com/the-kitchen-table/tips-tricks/cooking-with-children
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