You guys, I’m in love. With a sandwich. We met at Bourke St Bakery in Surry Hills while I was on holiday, and although it was merely a holiday fling (never to meet again!), I was determined to recreate a Frankensteinian version of it that I can have right here in Ballarat. And, I must say, the experiment was a total success! Maniacal laugh!
The sandwich in question was a roasted veggie number on delicious, silky-soft grain bread but the star of the show was the baked ricotta in it. I’ve never been much of a cheese-in-sandwiches sort of person (blame the heavy-handed sprinkling of powdery yellow cheese in school canteen cheese and salad sangas… ugh) but this was a revelation. I immediately got my Google on and found a few recipes for baked ricotta. It turns out baked ricotta is pretty much just that – step 1, put ricotta in oven, step 2, bake – but most recipes enhance the flavour with a few herbs and such. This is my recipe, which is a bit of a combination of the Donna Hay and Taste.com.au versions, lightened up a bit.
Lulu’s baked ricotta
- 500g light ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp chilli (I keep a jar of Coles’ chilli in the fridge – if you wanted to use fresh chillies, this would equate to about half a standard red one)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine the parmesan, thyme, chilli, salt and pepper in a bowl/jug/what-have-you. Lightly beat the egg with a fork in a bowl until the yolk and white are combined. Add the ricotta and half the parmesan mix, and stir until combined. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan mix on top and bake for an hour or until golden.
Easy as. While that was baking, I chucked a few veggies into the oven to go with it – two portabella mushrooms, a red capsicum cut into four, two zucchinis cut lengthways into thin strips, half a sweet potato cut into thin slices, and a sliced-up eggplant. That might sound like a lot of vegetables – and it was! – but it takes hardly any effort to roast vegetables and if you do a bulk lot of them one night, you’ll have loads of them left over to put in sandwiches or with meals throughout the week. I just spray a bit of oil on top and sprinkle with pepper and a herb-salt mix, then leave them for 40 minutes or so and they’re good to go!
When the ricotta and veggies were done, I arranged them in a stack (this is optional, by the way, but if you like to feel all self-important and accomplished and a bit wanky I highly recommend arranging your food), added some spinach and topped it off with pesto.* Voila: baked ricotta veggie stack with spinach and sweet potato chips!
It was really good, you guys. I’ve done a similar thing before with haloumi and that is also a winner, so if you like your cheese a bit sharper, give that one a go. And if you don’t like pesto, it works well with pizza sauce, too.
*Pesto note: when buying pesto, make sure you read the label. I almost bought Coles brand pesto, until I noticed that it had twice the calories of the Leggo’s version. Leggo’s it is!
“But Lou,” I hear you say, “what’s all this got to do with being in love with a sandwich?” Well! The joy of making obscene amounts of roast vegetables, as I mentioned before, is that you can eat the leftovers for days to come. So, here was today’s lunch:
That’s right, it’s the sandwich. Baked ricotta, eggplant, zucchini, semi-dried tomatoes and pesto. I also added mushrooms, capsicum and sweet potato (because they were already roasted and ready to go), spinach (because spinach is great, you guys) and a little bit of mustard. And it was almost as good. So I’m happy – my Frankenstein’s monster of a sandwich was successful, and I have enough baked ricotta and veggies to last me for quite some time now. Awesome.