RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Ricotta is a soft, mild, finely textured cheese that’s made from whey, the liquid that separates from the curd when cheese is produced. (As such, it’s not technically a cheese at all, but a "whey cheese.") Recipes with ricotta cheese gain not only creaminess and sweetness from the ricotta, but also lots of nutrition. Available in whole milk, part-skim, and nonfat versions, ricotta packs plenty of protein and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and selenium. It also comes with a good amount of vitamin A, which supports vision and helps form and maintain healthy teeth, skin, bones, and mucous membranes. Whey also contains an amino acid called cysteine that helps produce glutathione, a cancer-fighting antioxidant.
When preparing recipes using ricotta cheese, look for Italian ricotta, which has a more prominent, slightly nutty flavor, and a somewhat drier texture than our domestic ricotta. The latter’s moist consistency and more neutral taste make it great for cooked recipes. Fresh ricotta is perishable, so you’ll want to use it quickly; it’ll keep in the refrigerator for a week or so.
Part-skim ricotta, with its lower saturated-fat content, is a great option for dairy-lovers who are watching their weight. In a long-term study of 3,000 people, overweight subjects who consumed low-fat milk and other dairy products were 70 percent less likely to become insulin resistant (a precursor to diabetes) than those who avoided dairy altogether.
Keep reading to find out how ricotta helps your blood pressure, and for recipes for creamy blueberry bruschetta, spinach manicotti, stuffed turkey tenderloin, and more.
Published on: March 23, 2010
Updated on: March 22, 2010