The Many Types of Ricotta

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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. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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3. Ricotta affumicata, or smoked ricotta, when grated over pasta or melted in a panini, lends a baconlike richness to the dish. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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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. André Baranowski
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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). Andre Baraowski