Now, I know that frying is not an everyday cooking technique for most people, and having just burned 307 calories on the treadmill (which does not offset the 308-or-more, likely more, calories I ingested in chocolate chip cookies with my coffee this morning), I feel almost guilty discussing fried food. Almost. Did the admission about the cookies give my lack-of-guilt away? Aw, heck. They were warm. And crispy. Yet chewy. I just made them, fer cryin’ out loud. You know you can’t pass up warm chocolate chip cookies – it would be a waste of melting chocolate and crisp cookie edges, people.
Ahhhh, but I digress. I made these savory ricotta fritters as part of our Valentine’s Dinner at home. Given that they are fried, I would consider them an occasional treat – something for holidays (even made-up sappy ones), or entertaining. In the event that you have made the Artichoke Ravioli, or any other variation on ricotta-filled pasta, and it turns out that you want to use all of the ricotta you have purchased because you, like me, despise food waste, this is a good way to achieve that goal. To be clear, by food waste, I mean both waste of actual product, and waste of a moment of perfection (see above reference to warm chocolate chip cookies, please.). To that end, these are a good, if completely unhealthy, use-up-the-leftover-ricotta treat that are best served right out of the frying pan. And they’re not so bad cold, either, in fact. If you’d prefer to be slightly more health-conscious, perhaps the Pasta with Ricotta and Prunes would work better for you. If not, please, dive in:
- 2 cups fresh ricotta
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/8th pound (2 ounces) sweet Soppressata, diced
- 2 tablespoons Cerignola olives (2 olives should do), pitted and cut into a fine dice (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, grated Pecorino-Romano, bread crumbs, Soppressata, olives (if using), and the egg. Mix until well-blended.
- Refrigerate the ricotta mixture for 10 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Place the 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Using an ice cream scoop - ricotta is sticky, people, there's no balling this up with your palms without much waste, and you know how you and I feel about waste - scoop a ball of the ricotta mixture that does not quite fill the scoop. This is also known as a scant scoop, scant being defined as barely amounting to (a scoop, a tablespoon, insert-your-measurement-here). You may need this later. I'm here to help.
- Place your scant scoops on the waxed paper, and then, using a couple of spoons, which you will use later in the frying process as well, transfer each scant scoop to the dish with the breadcrumbs and roll around to coat the ricotta scoop completely in breadcrumbs. Place each scoop back on the waxed paper until all are breadcrumb-coated. Now, proceed to heat the oil.
- In a large, deep pan, pour enough oil to submerge the bottom half of a ricotta fritter/scoop, approximately 1 inch deep. If you have an oil thermometer, use this to monitor the oil, and when it reaches 350 degrees, you can begin frying. In lieu of an oil thermometer, when the oil begins to shimmer, drop a very small amount of ricotta into the oil. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is hot enough for frying.
- Working in batches, carefully place the ricotta fritters in the hot oil, a large metal spoon works well for this. Fry until golden on the bottom, and, using the previously mentioned two spoons, flip the fritters over, cooking until golden-brown on both sides. This entire process should take between 3 and 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil, and serve immediately.
Cost: $8.18 including oil for frying.
Dinner tonight: Kale Lasagna with Walnut Pesto. Estimated cost for two: $3.98. The kale was on sale for $1.99 per bunch at Whole Foods. I’m using two bunches. I will first saute it in olive oil with a shallot, so that will add 45-cents in olive oil and 25-cents in shallot to the tally. The lasagna noodles are 1/2 of a box that cost $1.59, so that’s 80-cents. The bechamel sauce consists of 5 cups of milk for $1.25, butter at 35-cents for 4 tablespoons (out of 32 tablespoons for $2.79), and a little more than 5-cents in flour, with flour costing $3.99 for a 5-pound bag that yields us 76 1/4-cups of flour. We’ll use around $1.50 in grated Pecorino-Romano, tossing around 1/2-ounce over each of the three layers of lasagna. The walnut pesto will be just for the top layer – walnuts are expensive, people. So let’s say that I use two ounces of walnuts, which cost 44-cents per ounce, that’s 88-cents. The bunch of parsley I bought cost $1.69, I believe that I will use about 1/4 of that, so that’s around 43-cents. In the pesto, there will be additional Pecorino-Romano – we’ll call it $1.00 to be on the safe side, and probably another 45-cents in olive oil. There will be 6 servings for a total cost of $11.94, or $1.99 per serving. Sweet! And I will share the recipe for this lasagna in the next few days.
If you’re new to the blog, I generally announce that I’m making the dish and break down the cost in this “dinner tonight” section, and then post the recipe later. Part of the challenge – and fun, because we need to make it fun lest it become tedious – of eating good food on a restricted budget is coming up with new ideas for dinners. Generally, I brainstorm ideas for the coming week before I do my shopping, and then execute the dish. Many of the meals you read about in this section, I have concocted in my head at the start of the week in which they are posted, and sometimes I like to test the recipe out a few times before sharing it, just to be sure that it really works. Occasionally, because we all have our favorite go-to dinners, the “dinner tonight” recipe is already posted elsewhere in the blog, in which case, a link is provided, and sometimes, the meals are meant to be ideas that you, the reader, can riff off of.
Oh, and if you are new to the blog – where are my manners? Welcome! Sheesh! So rude!