Ricotta and Yogurt – A Match Made in Heaven

Like most people,  I used to think that ricotta was relegated strictly to lasagna. Unlike most people, though, it was the reason I loved lasagna. I went straight for the pillows of ricotta nestled in my mother’s version, bypassing the mozzarella, the sauce and the noodles along the way. Ricotta’s creamy, slightly sweet flavor and gentle texture always touched me. Yogurt, on the other hand, was strictly breakfast food in my mind — packed with nutrition to start the day.

However, I realized that the universe of ricotta and yogurt goes well beyond my formerly restricted perceptions. Both lend themselves handily to both sweet and savory preparations. Stir a little sugar and spice into either and you have an instant “pudding” kind of dessert. Stir some fresh herbs and a little garlic and lemon into plain yogurt and you have a beautiful sauce for fish or poultry.

In this recipe, ricotta forms the bulk of a refreshing dip, while plain yogurt softens it into saucy texture and adds a bit of acidic bite. The combination of curry and basil gives  a nod to Thai cuisine and an edge to standard crudité dipping sauce. After tasting this  dip, I promise you, you’ll never think of ricotta and yogurt the same way again. Enjoy it with fresh, beautifully arranged spears of fresh vegetables, such as cucumber, carrots and cherry tomatoes. You can feel good about serving this to friends and family knowing that it provides many of the nutrients that many Americans are lacking.

Creamy Curry Basil Crudite Dip

(Yield: 2 1/2 cups)

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup 2 % plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons red curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • Generous pinch white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and pureed with the edge of your chef’s knife
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 scallions, ends trimmed and discarded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, yogurt, curry, salt, pepper, honey, garlic and lemon juice until smooth and well-combined. Stir in the scallions. Allow to sit at room temperature for one hour before serving. Stir in the basil just before serving. Serve in a pretty bowl and garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil. Arrange fresh vegetables around the bowl and dig in. This is perfect fare for entertaining during spring and summer months.

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Guest post by Holly Herrick.

Holly Herrick is a Cordon Bleu Trained Chef and professional food writer. She is the author of five cookbooks, most recently The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013). Her web site address/post can be found at: www.hollyherrick.com.