Summer Happy Hour Spreads: Herbed Ricotta, Pea Pesto, & Pimento Cheese

Photo May 30, 10 18 21 AM

Well, Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone and I’m so happy it’s the start of another summer season.

Photo May 30, 10 19 00 AM

I don’t know if you remember, but I’m such a beach kid. Last year I got my very own beach bike and this year I’m a provisional member at the yacht club where I’ve been tagging along for so many summers now. Who woulda thunk?!

Photo May 30, 9 45 43 AM

There’s a lot to do at the yacht club. There’s sailing, obviously, and tennis. Bocce games and dinner dances abound. And I’m looking forward to partaking in all of that. I’m already shopping for tennis shoes at the Nike online store.

Photo May 30, 9 43 57 AMPhoto May 30, 9 49 30 AMPhoto May 30, 9 51 40 AMPhoto May 30, 10 02 28 AMPhoto May 30, 10 03 38 AM

The thing is, I’m joining a yacht club and I don’t know how to sail or play tennis. My bocce game is…rookie. But I am ready for one thing: Friday evening happy hours. If you get down early enough on a Friday, you head over to the club, you bring your beer or your wine or your dark n’ stormy ingredients (coming up next), and if you’re really good, you bring a snack to share.

Photo May 30, 9 47 11 AMPhoto May 30, 9 47 56 AMPhoto May 30, 9 55 19 AMPhoto May 30, 9 56 24 AMPhoto May 30, 9 57 54 AMPhoto May 30, 9 59 19 AM

And boy, do I have some snacks to share. Specifically, dips and spreads. These are some of my favorite party foods to make. They’re easy, they’re crowd-pleasers, and I love to eat off bread.

Photo May 30, 9 50 29 AMPhoto May 30, 10 05 45 AMPhoto May 30, 10 06 29 AMPhoto May 30, 10 08 28 AM

So today I share with you three of my favorites to make: herbed ricotta, pea pesto, and pimento cheese. They’ll be making the rounds with me all summer at yacht club happy hours, and I think they should make the rounds wherever you’re spending time this summer, too.

Photo May 30, 10 20 53 AM

Ina’s Herbed Ricotta

“Adapted” from Ina Garten

Yields: About 2 cups

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

A good handful or two of parlsey, chopped finely

2-3 scallions, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, add the milk, the cream, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. While this comes to a boil, line a sieve with two layers of damp cheesecloth. Place the sieve over a deep bowl. (The sieve will need to be rather large. Mine is only just big enough.)
  2. Once the milk comes to a boil, turn the heat off and stir in three tablespoons of white wine vinegar. (You’ll want to watch the milk so it doesn’t scorch and so it doesn’t boil over the top of the pot.)
  3. Let it sit for a minute, until you see it curdle. You’ll notice it separate into thick parts and milky parts.
  4. Pour this into the sieve and let drain for 20-30 minutes, until it reaches the thickness you prefer. Empty the bowl as needed. (Or, if you’re interested, keep the whey for other uses.)
  5. Once the ricotta has drained, put it in a clean bowl. Add the parsley and the scallions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Serve warm or cold on toasted bread (sourdough is great) or rice crackers.

*Note: You can add any herbs you want. Ina makes this with dill, chives, and scallions. I just made it again with parsley, thyme, and lemon zest and it’s my new favorite combination. Try different seasonings until you find your favorite!

Photo May 30, 9 53 11 AMPhoto May 30, 9 53 52 AMPhoto May 30, 10 01 26 AMPhoto May 30, 10 19 46 AM

Pea Pesto

Recipe from Plentytude (website defunct)

Yields: About 2 cups

Ingredients:

One 10-ounce bag of frozen peas, at room temperature

2-3 garlic cloves

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, blitz the garlic for a few seconds. Then add the peas, and blitz again.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running.
  3. Add the parmesan, salt, and pepper, and mix until combined.

*Note: You can adjust almost any of these measurements to your liking. I eyeball the olive oil and Parmesan every time.

Photo May 30, 10 21 37 AMPhoto May 30, 10 22 10 AM

Pimento Cheese

Adapted from The Lee Brothers

Yields: 1 ½ cups

Ingredients:

8 ounces sharp orange cheddar cheese, grated

¼ – ½ cup cottage cheese

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon grated yellow onion

About ½ cup of jarred pimentos, or roasted red pepper chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place the cottage cheese, about half the cheddar, and the onion in a food processor. Blend for about 10-15 seconds.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the cheese mixture, the rest of the cheese, pimentos, salt and pepper together.

*Note: you can mix everything together without a processor and call it a day, but I like to disguise the cottage cheese a little bit. You can also use cream cheese instead.

Photo May 30, 9 59 57 AMPhoto May 30, 10 20 19 AM

**NOTE ABOUT ALL SPREADS: Spreads like these are great because it’s so easy to personalize all of them. The recipe is more like a suggestion. The ricotta making itself is the only real science here. Everything else is easy to customize. Also, all of these dips will benefit from a day or two to rest in the fridge. It really helps the flavors absorb.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Summer Happy Hour Spreads: Herbed Ricotta, Pea Pesto, & Pimento Cheese

  1. Pingback: Pumpkin & Ricotta Ravioli | A Pinch of This

  2. Pingback: Essential Kitchen Tools | A Pinch of This

  3. Pingback: Housewarming + A Recipe | A Pinch of This

  4. Pingback: A Pinch of This

  5. Pingback: A Pinch of Summer: Tomato, Cucumber & Ricotta Crostini | A Pinch of This

  6. Pingback: A Pinch of This

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s