Ten Types of Ricotta
1. Ricotta infornata, or baked ricotta, has a distinctive tan crust, a toasty flavor, and a firm but supple texture comparable to cheesecake's; Italians often eat it with bread or as part of an antipasto platter.
2. Homemade ricotta, made by adding rennet or an acid, like vinegar, to heated whole milk, causing curds to form, has a milky flavor that's suited to a wide variety of dishes.
3. Ricotta affumicata, or smoked ricotta, when grated over pasta or melted in a panini, lends a baconlike richness to the dish.
4. Crushed red chile flakes are a common seasoning in numerous southern Italian dishes, and they're also what give ricotta salata al peperoncino its piquant bite; the cheese makes an excellent addition to linguine with arrabbiata sauce.
5. Faintly grassy and rich, sheep's milk ricotta, or ricotta di pecora, works well as the focal point of a dish, whether eaten on crostini with honey and figs or tossed with pasta.
6. Most factory-made ricotta, like the Polly-O brand, is produced from cows' milk and has a fine-grained curd; its mild flavor and consistent texture, achieved by the addition of stabilizers like gums, makes it a good choice for lasagne and other cooked dishes.
7. Ricotta impastata, or pastry ricotta, is whipped to create an ethereal texture and is sometimes sweetened; professional pastry chefs use it to make fluffy fillings for cannoli and sfogliatelle, a traditional Italian layered pastry.
8. The dense and pungent fermented cheese known as ricotta forte is a specialty of Gravina, a city in the southern Italian region of Puglia; this ricotta is aged from 60 days to a few years, and its flavor is reminiscent of blue cheese's.
9. Ricotta salata is salted, pressed, and then dried and aged for three months, which firms the cheese and yields a bright, mildly salty flavor; try crumbling it over salads or grating it into pasta dishes.
10. Buffalo milk ricotta , or ricotta di bufala, has a pleasingly gamy taste and a dense texture (owing to the higher fat content of buffalo milk).