Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta, Prosciutto, and Arugula

Ingredients

For the homemade ricotta

  • 1/2  gallon whole milk
  • 2 Cups  buttermilk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  kosher salt

For the bruschetta

  • baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick on a bias
  •   Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 Cup  fresh homemade or store-bought ricotta
  • 15  arugula leaves
  • 1/4 Pound  prosciutto or other salty, cured pork meat, such as coppa, lomo, or speck, sliced very thinly
  •   Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Every Saturday during spring, summer, and fall, Barry and I walk over for lunch at the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene — part antiques market, part junk sale, part craft fair, part artisanal food court. It's also great people-watching; aside from a reliably cute crew of scruffy Brooklynites and international tourists, celebs ranging from Martha Stewart to Michael Stipe are regularly spotted poking through the treasures. But the real action for us is in the well-curated street food: fabulous Salvadorian pupusas (thick corn tortillas stuffed with pork, beans, and cheese), brick-oven pizza, sandwiches of brisket and porchetta, and my favorite, approximated here, from Brooklyn's own Salvatore Ricotta. This is a quick and perfect treat, an ideal use for homemade ricotta.

See all bruschetta recipes.

Directions

For the homemade ricotta

Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, and secure it with 3 or 4 clothespins. Set the colander inside the bowl. Measure out a 2-foot length of string and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, with a thermometer handy, combine the whole milk and buttermilk and heat, stirring nearly constantly, until the temperature reaches 180 degrees. (When you reach 170-175 degrees, you'll start to see fine, little curds separating from the whey.)

At 180 degrees, turn off the heat, and skim the curds from the whey using a finely slotted spoon, dropping the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. (Save the whey for another use, such as breadmaking.)

Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and tie it with the string. Gently squeeze to remove more, but not all, liquid from the cheese, and then hang over the sink or bowl for 20-30 minutes to drain a bit more. (I use the string to tie the bag to the faucet.)

Remove the ricotta from the cheesecloth, spoon into a container, and stir in the salt. Serve as soon as possible, preferably without refrigerating.

For the bruschetta

Heat an outdoor or indoor grill or grill pan on medium-high heat. Spread out the sliced breads on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Grill the bread until golden all over, 2-3 minutes per side. Rub one side of each piece of bread with the garlic. Arrange the bread on a platter.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the ricotta on each piece of bread, and then press an arugula leaf into the cheese. Place a slice of prosciutto on top, drizzle with your best olive oil, and serve.

Notes

Note: For this recipe, where the flavor of the milk is so important, use the highest quality you can find. Your best bet is a local dairy that is likely to pasteurize its milk more gently than a factory brand, and steer clear entirely of homogenization. For me in New York, that's Ronnybrook, which is available at many farmers' markets and better supermarkets, and hails from just a couple of hours north of the city.

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