Herbed Ricotta, Pestos, and Tapenades

Pestos And Tapanades

It’s a meat-free day today at my house. Anything you can spread over grilled and/or toasted bread is delicious.

Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just basil anymore. You can substitute arugula or spinach, you can add walnuts or pistachios. The possibilities are endless. Today I’m going to tap into my Hanging Organic Herb Garden to add a lot of freshness to my Herbed Ricotta, Pestos, And Tapenades.

The difference between a Pesto and a Tapenade is generally Tapenades are olive-based… yes there are olives in certain Pestos.

In the pictures above I’ve made a Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto, Pea, Pecorino, And Pistachio Pesto, Artichoke Pesto, and a Kalamata Olive With Cannellini Bean Tapenade.

I love to shake things up by using different kinds of ingredients. For example; roasted red peppers, artichokes, peas, Cannellini beans, Kalamata olives, or Ricotta cheese, mix in nuts and fresh herbs.

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh lemon juice, and a great *E.V.O.O. are key in making a great pesto or Tapenade. Let’s not forget about the nuts. Traditionally pine nuts are what’s used, not today, it’s pistachios. I even used a variety of herbs like basil, chives, mint, and Italian flat-leaf parsley. I say let your imagination go wild!  Then spread it on grilled bread.

In the next section, are my recipes for Herbed Ricotta Cheese, Pea, Pecorino, And Pistachio Pesto, and  Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto. Recipes may vary slightly from one pesto to another. Some pestos tend to be thicker than others. A secret I use to thicken certain pestos is by adding a small amount of Cannellini Beans. They add creaminess and give great texture to the Pesto or Tapenade.

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E.V.O.O.

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Sweet Basil (2)

mint

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

Red and Yellow Grape Tomatoes

Diced Mozzarella Cheese

Pestos And Tapenades

Roasted Red Peppers

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Ciabatta

Olive Oil

Toasted Ciabatta Bread

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Pestos And Tapenades

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 8 servings (Herbed Ricotta Cheese)
Yields: 8 servings (Pea, Pecorino, And Pistachio Pesto)
Yields: 8 servings (Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto)
Equipment: 1 (10-cup) food Processor, 1 mini food processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, chef’s knife, small and large mixing bowls, indoor grill-pan, hand-held juicer

Ingredients For Herbed Ricotta Cheese:
1 pound (16 ounces) of ricotta cheese, whole milk
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
3 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.
2 tablespoons of chives, finely minced
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsely, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Pea, Pecorino, And Pistachio Pesto:
1 (15-ounce) bag of frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup of Pistachios
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.

Ingredients For Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto:
1 (12-ounce) jar of roasted Piquillo peppers, drained (substitute roasted red peppers)
1/4 cup of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of Pistachios
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.

1 loaf of Ciabatta, sliced (substitute baguette)
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

Directions For Oven Baked Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

Slice the Ciabatta bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Liberally drizzle the top surface of each slice of Ciabatta lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

Directions For Grilling Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat indoor grill-pan over medium-high heat. Brush the both sides of the Ciabatta with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Arrange the slices of bread on the grill. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Note: This is the method I use when making any type of pesto. I also want to mention, using Cannellini beans gives extra body to the pesto without changing the flavor.

Directions For Herbed Ricotta Cheese:
In a food processor, purée the ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and the 1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O. until smooth. Scrape into a medium-size mixing bowl. Add in the fresh herbs, stir to combine. Garnish with a sprig of Italian flat-leaf parsley.

Directions For Pea, Pecorino, And Pistachio Pesto:
Start processing the nuts ( Pistachios), garlic, and the herb (mint) of choice first. You can see this in the pictures above. Once this has been processed, add in the main ingredients. In this case, the peas, fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

Next, through the feed tube, at the top, drizzle in the *E.V.O.O. slowly. This will allow you to control the consistency of the pesto as it’s being processed, and you can adjust the amount accordingly.

Finally, add the freshly grated cheese. The reason is so the cheese doesn’t get too hot from the blade. Continuously processing can change the integrity of the cheese. Pulse the grated cheese until just combined.

Directions For Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto:
Start processing the nuts ( Pistachios), garlic, and the herb (basil) of choice first. You can see this in the pictures above. Once this has been processed, add in the main ingredients. In this case, the roasted Piquillo peppers, Cannellini beans, fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

Next, through the feed tube, at the top, drizzle in the *E.V.O.O. slowly. This will allow you to control the consistency of the pesto as it’s being processed, and you can adjust the amount accordingly.

Finally, add the freshly grated cheese. The reason is so the cheese doesn’t get too hot from the blade. Continuously processing can change the integrity of the cheese. Pulse the grated cheese until just combined.

There you have it, my Herbed Ricotta, Pestos And Tapenades.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Pea, Pecorino, And Pistachio Pesto

My Hanging Organic Herb Garden And Summertime Flowers