The Deceptively Simple Ingredient Ina Always Makes from Scratch

In this case, store-bought is not fine.

Ina Garten with Fresh Berries in Sweet Ricotta & Raspberry and Blackberry Sauce, as seen on Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics, Season 16.

Ina uses many high-quality, store-bought ingredients, but she’ll tell you when an ingredient you can shop for pales in comparison to the homemade version. In this weekend’s episode of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Ina is making Heirloom Tomatoes with Herbed Ricotta and explains why she always makes her own fresh ricotta. “Once I started to make my own ricotta and I realized how easy it was, I never went back to store-bought,” says Ina.

Her simple recipe calls for just four ingredients, whole milk, heavy cream, white wine vinegar and salt. First, she heats the milk, cream and salt in a pan until it begins to boil. “Bring it to a full, rolling boil,” says Ina, “That's really important.”

Then, turn off the heat and add a splash of white wine vinegar, and let it stand for a minute until it curdles. “What’s going to happen is it’s going to separate into the curds and whey. You’ve heard about it, curds and whey, but you’ve never actually seen it,” mused Ina in a previous episode.

Next, pour it into a sieve lined with cheese cloth that’s been set over a bowl and let it drain for 20-25 minutes depending on how thick you want the ricotta. You can use it immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to five days.

Use it any recipe that calls for fresh ricotta. It’s fantastic over lightly dressed heirloom tomatoes or spread on grilled sourdough bread with fresh herbs. Ina even serves it lightly sweetened for dessert with fresh berries. How easy is that?!

Get more Ina-approved tips and tricks on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like A Pro Sundays at 11:30a|10:30c.

Plus:

Next Up

How to Make Ina’s Favorite Weeknight Meal

"I don’ t think there’s any dish I’ve made more. Everybody loves this."