Tag Archives: ricotta

Ricotta, Eggplant & Mushroom Paninis

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It is flavorful, rich and versatile, providing an excellent base for all sorts of main dishes. The large purplish black veggie isn’t available in winter, though, so I had been missing it. So, when I found a container of grilled eggplant buried in our freezer from the summer, I was sooo excited to use it! A taste of summer in these dreary months was a welcome treat. Combined with some crusty bread, creamy ricotta, earthy mushrooms and zesty microgreens, these paninis are a great way to enjoy a variety of flavors and textures.

Ricotta, Eggplant & Mushroom Paninis

No ingredient amounts here! It’s a sandwich, you can figure out what proportions you’d like!




  1. Cut wheat bread into thick slices, and brush or spray outside of slices with olive oil. (I got to use our new oil mister here!)
  2. Spread ricotta cheese on inside of bread.
  3. Slice mushrooms.
  4. Layer eggplant and mushroom slices over ricotta.
  5. Top with microgreens or basil.
  6. Add mozzerella, if using.
  7. Grill sandwich on panini press for 3-4 minutes, or cook in skillet for about 3 minutes per side.
  8. Serve hot!
Ricotta, Eggplant & Mushroom Panini

Ricotta, Eggplant & Mushroom Panini

Butternut Mushroom & Ricotta Tart—It’s What’s for Dinner!

Last week, I stopped by Keepsake Farm with a friend to pick up some eggs and cheese. I was pleasantly surprised when the guy covering the counter asked, “So what are you going to make this time? I love looking at your blog to see what you did with what you bought.” Someone recognized me who reads this blog! 😀

Once I got over the giddiness of my first random recognition, I realized I had to make something truly excellent with the ricotta cheese I picked up that day. We recently discovered that Giorgio Mushrooms are grown within an hour of the Lehigh Valley and we picked up a pint of them on a whim. This isn’t the kind of farm we’ve been supporting for the past year, but we did research their practices and decided we’d purchase a container of them until our first order of very local Mother Earth mushrooms from Pure Sprouts arrive this weekend. Of course, three days after we purchased them, I saw that Jett’s Natural Produce had mushrooms for the first time all year! I guess they just weren’t in season before? (Never thought I’d actually feel a dilemma about where to get mushrooms. It felt weird to scan a package of produce.)

Anyway, we were glad to have the tasty fungi in our kitchen. (Funny thing, the fact that mushrooms are fungi freaked me out so much that I refused to eat them until last year. Now I love them!) Combined with a big ol’ butternut squash, some leafy kale, creamy ricotta and super simple crust, this tart (actually, a pie because I don’t have a tart pan) is something special enough to serve company.

Butternut, Mushroom & Ricotta Tart




  • 1 c. flour
  • 5 T. butter, cold
  • 3 T. cold water
  • 1 red onion (Jett’s Natural Produce)
  • 1.5 c. butternut squash (I diced & roasted a whole one so we’d have it for later) (from Jett’s Natural Produce)
  • 4 cloves garlic (Apple Ridge Farm)
  • 1 c. crimini mushrooms (Giorgio)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 4-6 kale leaves (Jett’s Natural Produce)
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese (Keepsake Farm)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Dice butternut squash, smash garlic, cut onions into wedges and quarter mushrooms.
  3. Toss squash, garlic, onions and mushrooms in baking dish with olive oil.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
  5. Meanwhile, cut slices of butter into flour in medium bowl using pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly.
  6. Add water 1 T. at a time until dough binds together.
  7. Press dough into bottom (and a little up the sides) of greased pie plate or tart pan.
  8. Chop kale, removing thick stems.
  9. Spread 3/4 of the ricotta onto crust.
  10. Spread kale over ricotta.
  11. When veggies are done roasting, reduce oven to 350° and evenly distribute them on top of kale.
  12. Drop remaining ricotta on top by the tablespoonful.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

    Tart/pie fit for company!

    Rustic looking tart/pie fit for company! Meaty mushrooms, sweet squash, savory kale and creamy cheese make for the perfect balance.

What’s For Dinner?

Can you figure out what I made for a weekend dinner based on these local ingredients? Check back for the recipe on Friday and see if you were right!


butter, flour, kale, butternut squash, mushrooms, onion, garlic, ricotta cheese, olive oil

Nude in the Candlelight

Last weekend, my kitchen was full of nudes in the candlelight.

Whoa! What?! Lack of electricity can make one a little loopy, but I think I would have noticed a bunch of naked people in my apartment. Instead, I am referring to gnudi, a delightful Italian pasta/dumpling I discovered for the first time right around the moment our power went out. Gnudi does mean nude in Italian, referring to the fact that these are similar to naked ravioli filling. Simple to create (even in the dark), flavorful and fluffy, these pillows of cheesy dough may have surpassed gnocchi on my palate. I stumbled across a recipe for gnudi when I was searching for something different to do with some very fresh ricotta I picked up from Keepsake Farm.

By 6:30pm on Saturday, many of my friends had already lost power and had it returned, so I thought that we were safe from the risk of power outage. My husband had been out since 7am working in the cold, shoveling and chainsawing downed limbs at the historic sites in town. He’s a huge fan of Italian food and I was sure he’d be hungry for something warm when he got home, so I decided to try out this rustic dish.

I pulled the ingredients from the fridge, took a picture, and began mixing up the pasta dough, listening to some Primus on my iPod. Then, over the notes of Les Claypool, I heard a loud crack/thud, followed by several flashes of my lights. Then, darkness. Crap. Eggs, meat and cheese out of the fridge, dough half made and no power. Looking out the window, it was obvious most of the city was in the dark, and I could see strange green and purple flashes across town as transformers blew, so I figured it wasn’t coming back any time soon.

Fortunately, though, we have a gas cooktop, and I was equipped with my headlamp (I am really starting to recognize the value of that gadget!), so I lit a yummy-scented candle, got out the box of matches for the stove, and carried on making gnudi for dinner. I served my gnudi with meatballs and fresh tomato sauce to make for a heartier meal for my hard-working man, but the dumplings would also be great with a light olive oil sauce.

Gnudi & Meatballs

Note: These pictures are awful. Sorry. Ingredients spotlit by head lamp don’t look all that appetizing!

Meatballs and Sauce Ingredients:

Meatballs & Sauce Ingredients

Meatballs & Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef (Valley View Farms)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. white wine (this was leftover from a work event, red would work, too)
  • 1 onion (Jett’s Natural Produce)
  • 2 cloves garlic (Apple Ridge Farm)
  • 1 egg (Valley View Farms)
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes (my garden)
  • handful fresh oregano (my garden)

Gnudi Ingredients:

Gnudi Ingredients

Gnudi Ingredients

  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese (Keepsake Farm)
  • 1/2 c. flour, plus some for dusting
  • 1 bunch greens (I used turnip greens from Apple Ridge Farm, but beet greens, spinach or chard would also work.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. aged cheese (I used Keepsake Ferale from Keepsake Farm, but you could also use gouda or parmesan)


  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
  2. Combine ground beef with egg and form into 1 inch balls.
  3. Chop onion and garlic and sautée in olive oil in large skillet for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add meatballs and cook until outsides are browned, tossing occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, halve tomatoes.
  6. When meatballs are browned, add wine and stir, scraping off any browned bits from surface of pan.
  7. Add tomatoes and bring to simmering. Reduce heat to low and cover for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Meatballs & Sauce

    Meatballs & Sauce

  8. While sauce simmers, chop greans and cook, stirring frequently, in another skillet until just wilted.
  9. Fluff ricotta with fork in large bowl.
  10. Add flour, 2 eggs, and greens. Mix well.
  11. Grate or finely crumble the cheese into the ricotta mixture. Mix well.
  12. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls, setting them on a floured surface. Turn the balls on the surface to coat the outsides lightly in flour. Slightly flatten each one.

    Uncooked Gnudi

    The light coating of flour provides a bit of body for the outside of the dumplings.

  13. Drop the dumplings into boiling water. Cook for two minutes longer than it takes for them to rise to the surface of the pan.
  14. Gently remove and strain gnudi, then toss with a bit of olive oil and serve hot with tomato sauce.

Sure to bring warmth to any cold, dark night!

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