Toasted Ciabatta with Whipped Ricotta and Roasted Tomatoes — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A LITTLE JOY

Here’s the thing, as a transplanted New Yorker, I always expect the weather to cool down in September. Yeah, that never happens. So when it’s still sweltering, I look for lighter dinners. Serve this ciabatta recipe with a simple salad, and you won’t be disappointed. Or it makes a fantastic appetizer to serve your favorite people when you invite them over to share a bottle of crisp rosé on a steamy September day.


1 loaf ciabatta

2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes

1 cup olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

5-9 garlic cloves, peeled, divided (measure with love)

3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter

16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese (not low-fat)

1 cup fresh basil leaves (reserve one sprig to roast with the tomatoes)

Flaky sea salt to taste

2-3 tablespoons honey


Preheat the oven to 400.

To make the tomatoes, place the tomatoes, olive oil, the garlic and salt and pepper to taste in a baking dish that is just large enough to hold the tomatoes. Place in the oven and roast until the tomatoes are very soft. About 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (If you are making this in advance, place it in a container and refrigerate it until ready to use. Make sure the mixture comes to room temperature.)

To make the whipped ricotta, place the ricotta into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt.

Halve the ciabatta bread lengthwise and split it open. Spread a thin layer of butter on the bread. Take the garlic that you roasted with the tomatoes and smear it on the bread. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 5-7 minutes until the top of the bread turns a little golden. If you like it more toasty, place it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Spread the whipped ricotta on the bread. Spoon the tomatoes over the ricotta with a little bit of oil. (You can refrigerate the rest of the oil and cook with it or use it to make salad dressings or marinades — it’s so good.) Sprinkle the basil leaves over the tomatoes. Top with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also drizzle a touch of honey on top — the sweetness takes it up a level. Mike’s Hot Honey is a tasty option for those who like it hot.


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