Milky, delicate and fresh, the Cheese of the Month for February is creamy Wisconsin ricotta. Ricotta cheese has a mild flavor with just a touch of sweetness. Its texture is creamy, yet slightly grainy, giving it a cohesive property that makes it an excellent cooking cheese. Used as a staple ingredient in many savory Italian dishes, as well as rich desserts, ricotta melds ingredients and flavors to create the finished dish.
Wisconsin ricotta blends wonderfully with herbs, vegetables, pasta and of course, another Italian staple, tomatoes. We love the combination of fresh tomatoes with herbed ricotta in this easy appetizer. Serve in individual bowls in place of a bread basket or salad course, or double the recipe for a fresh side dish or light entrée.
By Wisconsin cheese
4 cups day-old crusty bread, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse ground salt and pepper, to taste
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped and divided
1 15-ounce container Wisconsin ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F. On baking sheet, spread bread cubes in single layer and bake until just browned, about 20 minutes.
In large bowl, mix tomatoes and olive oil, coating evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add bread cubes and half the fresh thyme, tossing to combine. Let sit 5 minutes.
Divide mixture evenly among 8 small bowls for an appetizer, or 4 bowls for a side dish or entrée. Distribute ricotta evenly among bowls over bread and tomato mixture. Sprinkle remaining thyme over ricotta. Drizzle with olive oil; add additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve immediately.