The word ‘ricotta’ means re-cooked and ‘salata’ means salted. Ricotta Salata is a Sicilian cheese made from the whey part of sheep milk which is pressed, salted and aged for at least 90 days. It is milky white in colour with firm texture and a refreshingly salty taste (similar to Cheshire cheese). It’s great for slicing, crumbling and grating so it’s definitely worth getting your hands on some. If you can’t find it, ask your local cheesemonger to source it for you. I got mine from Harry at Love Cheese in York, it comes in a 400g block but it can be successfully frozen if you can’t use it all. This bruschetta recipe is inspired by a sultry evening on the beautifully verdant island of Sicily whose location has long made it something of a cultural crossroads with the Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Carthaginians all leaving their mark on the region’s incredibly diverse cuisine which still thrives on centuries old family recipes that are passed down from generation to generation.
6 slices of sourdough, thickly sliced and lightly griddled
300g of frozen or fresh garden peas
30g fresh tarragon
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
200g ricotta salata, coarsely grated
200g of good quality Greek yoghurt
A couple of handufuls of rocket leaves
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to your taste
How I make it
Place the peas in a pan of boiling water and allow to blanch for 30 seconds. Drain through a fine sieve and rinse them in cold running water to stop the cooking process. Place into a medium mixing bowl.
Using the back of a fork, gently crush the peas leaving some whole for added texture.
Pick the tarragon leaves and finely chop. Add to the peas and season to your taste.
Mix the ricotta salata with the yoghurt and add the chopped garlic and lemon zest. Stir everything together to combine.
Meanwhile, dress the rocket leaves with the lemon juice.
Thickly spread each slice of bread with the cheese mixture. Place on individual plates and tumble the pea mixture over the top of each slice. Finish with a grind of freshly ground pepper.
Serve the dressed rocket leaves on the side.