Here I am in the midst of my kitchen renovation…trying to come up with recipes that don’t require any use of an oven or cooktop.
Meals that don’t dirty actual dishes have also been high on the list (we have no dishwasher or kitchen sink at the moment either).
To relieve my cooking stress, my husband has graciously suggested that we up the number of times we eat out or order in during this renovation. Sure, this may seem like most people’s natural inclination, but because I’m a crazy person who is obsessed with cooking, it didn’t really occur to me to take this time as a cooking hiatus. I just figured I would, well, figure it out!
Last weekend, after Dan urged me to stop meal planning, we checked out a local place recommended to us by one of his former coworkers (who is actually a co-owner/manager of the restaurant): Zavino. It’s touted as a pizza and wine bar, which sounded like heaven to me. I, of course, was bummed about missing out on a good wine opportunity, but soothing my soul with pizza seemed like a good alternative.
Plus, I wouldn’t trade in those adorable little baby kicks for anything. They make missing out on wine (and coffee and hot dogs and feta cheese) worth it.
While there, we ordered a few appetizers to share along with some pasta small plates and a pizza. Because Dan is friends with the manager, they sent out a bunch of complimentary food ON TOP of our order. It was SO MUCH food. We ended up taking home at least a third of it (which also happens to be good for a no-cook zone).
One of the dishes they sent out was a special cheese plate: whipped ricotta with some sort of pesto swirled on top that was served with warm pizza crusts. OMG. It was probably the best thing we had. Even the baby liked it. He was doing a jig on my bladder all throughout our dinner.
I did my usual “I have to recreate this as soon as possible” thing, and Dan rolled his eyes. So much for keeping me out of the kitchen…or lack thereof.
The thing about this dish that was so pleasantly surprising was the pesto. It was SWEET. Like honey sweet. And it had a touch of lemon goin’ on too. It just WORKED with that over-the-top-creamy ricotta. And don’t get me started on the pizza crusts. Warm, chewy, and slightly charred. To die for.
So, this is my rendition. Even though I don’t have an oven at the moment, I was able to test these pita chips at my parents’ house with their oven and they came out spectacularly. Not quite the same as pizza crust, of course, but still just as delicious!
This snack is definitely going to be a repeat in our house, even after I have access to my kitchen again. I could eat that ricotta by the bucket full…with nothing but a spoon.
Dan is rolling his eyes somewhere…but I know he’s happy about it. So is the baby. He’s still jigging. My poor bladder.
This Whipped Ricotta with Sweet Lemon-Basil Pesto & Spiced Pita Chips is a super easy and simple appetizer or snack that tastes like the end of summer! Use up all that fresh basil by making this twist on a classic pesto and then serving it over the dreamiest, creamiest whipped ricotta! Served simply with homemade pita chips, this one is a winner.
For the Pesto:
- ½ cup fresh basil
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
For the Ricotta:
- 1 (15-oz) container whole milk ricotta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Pita Chips:
- 3 whole-wheat pita breads, cut into triangles (I usually do 6-8 per pita, depending on the size)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Pesto:
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Taste for seasonings.
- Just as a note, the pesto should be sweeter and a touch more lemony than traditional pesto.
For the Ricotta:
- Place the ricotta in a food processor and process until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and whip again for a minute or so. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Keep at room temperature until ready to serve (unless you’re making it in advance – keep it in the fridge and let it come to room temperature again before serving).
For the Pita Chips:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and spread the pita triangles out in an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and then season with the dried garlic, garlic powder, onions powder, herbs, and salt. Toss them around with your hands so that all the pitas are evenly coated in the oil and seasonings.
- Spread them out in an even layer again and bake for 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve them warm, if possible.
- Dollop the ricotta on a large plate or in the bottom of a bowl.
- Drizzle with as much of the pesto as you like, swirling it in some.
- Serve with the warm pita chips on the side.
- You can use part-skim ricotta for this if you prefer. The whole milk ricotta will lend itself to a richer and creamier result, but both work and both are delicious!
- The pita chips can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days before going stale. I recommend reheating them for a few minutes in a hot oven before serving. It brings them back to life!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: appetizers
Keywords: whipped ricotta appetizer, sweet basil lemon pesto recipe, whipped ricotta with pesto, homemade pita chips, quick and easy appetizers