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Keeping it simple this Memorial Day weekend


Some great recipes are born out of sheer need rather than lengthy experimentation.  It’s about doing something simple with flavors you know work well together.

A great example is a lemon ricotta dip I made for an informal get-together at my place. It was a simple success, so I’m hitting the repeat button for our local Memorial Day picnic with friends.

I love creamy, homemade ricottas that are often available at cheese shops and gourmet grocers. The flavor is so mellow, the cheese can go in either direction — sweet or savory.  

You can serve ricotta for dessert with fresh fruit, as a light appetizer on crostini or baked into an Italian cheesecake. One store bought-brand I particularly like is the fat-free Calabro. It retains the typical chunkiness that characterizes ricotta, but without all the extra liquid.

I especially love the combination of lemon and ricotta. This quick appetizer came from a simple combination of flavors I like and ingredients kept in the kitchen. In less than five minutes, you can have an easy, homemade dip on hand for snacking or to put out on a warm summer day for friends. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Quick lemon ricotta dip

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

16 oz. fat-free ricotta (Calabro) or whole-milk, fresh ricotta

2 Tbsp. plain, Greek, fat-free yogurt

1 lemon, zested

2 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh or dried mint and Aleppo pepper, for sprinkling (optional)

Olive oil, for drizzling

Assorted vegetables, like radishes, carrots, fennel, cauliflower, haricots verts, and baby zucchini for serving.

1. If you own a food processor, combine the ricotta, yogurt, lemon zest and garlic in the bowl. Pulse a few times and then run until smooth, about one minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, cover with plastic wrap and store for up to two days until ready to serve. Sprinkle with mint and pepper if desired and drizzle with olive oil.

2. If you don’t have a food processor, you can make an equally flavorful, thicker version of this dip by hand mixing the ricotta, yogurt, lemon zest and mint in a large bowl. Season and store as indicated above.