I headed out with the intention of buying some meat but then the butcher was closed! We had an imported ‘Bull’s Heart tomato from Mount Vesuvius’ from the nearby luxury food heaven ‘General Store’, so I bought a tub of ricotta at the corner shop to cook this dish. My inspiration the picture that Italian cooking teacher and gardener extraordinaire Carla Tomasi’s posted on Instagram, of a sweet baked ricotta cake. The juicy tomato, perfumed thyme and creamy ricotta are a dream combination (I think).
It was preceded by a plate of anchovies on hot buttered toast.
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter
1 tub ricotta
2 sprigs of thyme (NOT lemon thyme)
75g grated parmesan
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 garlic clove
1 large ripe tomato cut into 8 pieces lengthways
wild garlic flowers (if available)
How to make:
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Mix together the ricotta, the egg, the parmesan, the lemon zest, the leaves from 1 sprig of thyme (around 1 teaspoon’s worth) in a bowl with a pinch of salt, a good grind of pepper, until smooth.
Pour into a small oven proof dish that has been rubbed with a cut clove of garlic and lightly greased with oil or butter.
Boil the kettle.
Place the small oven proof dish containing the ricotta mix into a larger one. Pour in hot water around it to about halfway up the dish. Gently put in the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until just set. Remove.
Once the ricotta is out of the oven, toss the tomatoes in a little olive oil, no salt.
Turn the oven down to 150C. Place the tomatoes in a small oven proof dish or bowl and put in the oven for 15 minutes. They should not cook, just get warm through. When out of the oven, season with a pinch of salt.
Arrange slices of the ricotta on a plate with tomatoes, garnish with a few thyme leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle over garlic flowers if you have them, otherwise, don’t worry.
Serve with toasted sourdough or another tasty loaf.