Ricotta is the base for crab quiche bites

  • By J.M. Hirsch Associated Press
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2012 4:30pm
  • Life

When it comes to food, “recooked” isn’t generally a term met with much affection. The dairy world, however, gives us a fine exception in ricotta cheese.

Ricotta — Italian for recooked — isn’t exactly a stranger to most Americans, who tend to love it in their lasagna and stuffed pasta shells. But as cheeses go, its versatility is vastly underappreciated, mostly because few people realize how it’s made, or why that matters for how they use it.

So let’s start there. ricotta got its name because it is made literally by recooking the liquid left over from making other cheeses, often mozzarella. This is possible because when the mozzarella or other cheeses are made, most but not all of the protein is removed from the liquid, usually cow’s milk.

That leftover protein can be recooked and coagulated using a different, acid-based process (a rennet-based method is used to make the first batch of cheese). The result is a soft, granular cheese with a texture somewhere between yogurt and cottage cheese. The taste is mild, milky, salty and slightly acidic.

And that acid is key. When cheese is formed using acid, the proteins become heat resistant. In other words, the cheese doesn’t melt. So ricotta falls in the same category as paneer, halloumi, queso blanco and other cheese that can be heated without melting. This is why ricotta is such a fine choice for lasagna, stuffed shells, ravioli and cheesecake. It heats wonderfully, but doesn’t reduce to a pool of goo.

In Italy, there are many varieties of ricotta, including smoked and baked. In the U.S., most grocers carry only the more perishable soft, moist variety sold in tubs.

Ricotta-crab quiche bites

2 1.9-ounce packages frozen mini filo dough cups (15 cups per package)

1/2cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2eggs

1/4teaspoon garlic powder

1/4teaspoon salt

1/4teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2cup crab meat, finely chopped

Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the filo cups on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a blender, combine the ricotta, eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Blend until very smooth. Stir the crab meat into the egg mixture.

Carefully spoon a bit of the mixture into each filo cup, filling each about three-quarters full.

Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan over each cup, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling is set and starting to brown.

The quiche bites can be served hot, room temperature or chilled.

Makes 30 bites. Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 30 calories; 10 calories from fat (33 percent of total calories); 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 0 g fiber; 65 mg sodium.

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

Most Read