Faced with a mountain of home-made ricotta, I turned to my recipe books for something a bit different. I found the inspiration for this recipe in an old M & S book called Viva Italia! As you can well imagine, M & S did not call it ‘Working Girl’s Baked Ricotta’ but given that many of the ingredients were the same as those of the classic Pasta Puttanesca, I threw in some red chillies for good measure and renamed it. I struggled with the renaming bit. ‘Whore’s Baked Ricotta’ sounded a bit rude, as did Nigella’s translation of ‘Slut’s’. And so I went with Jamie’s ‘Working Girl’s’, which I realise sounds like a bad eighties film but at least it won’t scare the horses or provide any more encouragement to the ‘cheese soft porn’ visitor.
It’s very easy to make but less easy to decide how to serve. M & S have it as antipasti, which is probably good advice as it’s not something you’d want to eat a huge amount of. This isn’t to say it tastes bad just, well, a bit strange. It’s the kind of dish you taste, pull a bit of a face at and then return to every five minutes for the next hour to scoff a bit more. I’m not selling it to you here, am I? I did stir a large amount into some warm pasta, which was very nice, as was some spread onto fresh bread. Just what you need after an, um, hard day’s work.
250g ricotta cheese
2 sun-dried tomatoes, hydrated in boiling water and chopped
6 black olives, roughly chopped
1 tbsp salted capers, roughly chopped
1 dried red chilli, deseeded and chopped
12 fresh young bay leaves
Salt and pepper to season
Butter, to grease the ramekins
Pre-heat the oven to 190˚C / 170˚C fan-assisted / Gas Mark 5.
Push the ricotta through a sieve into a bowl.
Beat in the eggs and then stir in the tomatoes, olives, capers and chilli. Season well.
Butter four small ramekins. Arrange three bay leaves in each and chill the ramekins to keep the leaves in place.
Spoon in the ricotta mixture and put the ramekins on a baking tray.
Bake the cheeses for 20 minutes until set. Leave to cool down and then chill them in the fridge. Turn them out onto plates and serve as you please (or just keep sneaking back for the odd nibble…)