Baked spiced ricotta with slow-roasted tomatoes

Baked spiced ricotta cake with a central layer of jammy tomatoes.
Baked spiced ricotta cake with a central layer of jammy tomatoes. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Vegetarian

This is an easy and wonderfully tasty addition to your festive spread. But one caveat: it is very important to strain the ricotta overnight to get rid of any excess whey. If you are using the supermarket versions, this is particularly important as they have a tendency for greater liquidity. Slow-roasting the tomatoes intensifies their natural sweetness and removes some of the liquid, which is key to ensuring the cheese can cook through. Start this recipe one day ahead.

Ingredients

1kg ricotta 

4 eggs

100g parmesan, grated

¾ cup mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used basil, oregano, rosemary and flat-leaf parsley)

1 large garlic clove, crushed

1 cup jammy tomatoes (see below)

Jammy tomatoes

1.5kg cherry tomatoes on the vine

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar (or to taste)

generous pinch salt flakes

Topping

½ cup micro basil

½ cup semi-dried Greek olives

½ red chilli, finely sliced

3-4 sprigs young rosemary 

Method

1. Line a strainer with a kitchen cloth (such as a Chux) and place over a bowl. Add the ricotta and place in the fridge overnight to strain any whey from the cheese. 

2. Preheat the oven to 150C fan-forced (170C conventional).

3. Place the tomatoes on a baking tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 90 minutes. They will be very soft and have rather dark spots on the skin. Scrape everything from the tray into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sugar and cook for 15 minutes or until you get a jam-like consistency. Don't over stir your tomatoes – getting large uneven chunks is part of the festive fun. Season generously with salt and pepper.

4. Increase the oven temperature to 165C fan-forced (185C conventonal). Line the base of an 8cm high-sided 18cm-round loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper, then brush the sides with oil.

5. Combine the ricotta, eggs, parmesan, herbs and garlic in a bowl. 

6. Spoon half the ricotta mixture into the cake tin. Add one cup of the jammy tomatoes and gently spread them across the top. Add the remaining ricotta mixture and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.

7. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, up to an hour. At the 45-minute mark give it a gentle jiggle – you want to be able to lightly wobble the tin without any movement. Pull out after 1 hour.

8. Cool the baked ricotta in the tin. Using a knife, gently run around the inside of the tin and carefully remove from the tin. I keep the baked ricotta on the cake base and transfer it directly to a serving platter. You could try to transfer it, but it is rather delicate and it's just easy to transfer on the tin base. 

9. Arrange the rosemary around the base of the ricotta. Top the ricotta with the olives, chilli and fresh herbs. Season again with salt and pepper and serve.

Tip: I've upped the quantity of jammy tomatoes here – they are so useful on anything and everything far beyond this number, from your morning toast to a bowl of pasta or a cheese platter or on those days when you stare at the ham (should you be eating any this Christmas) and wonder just what and how you will make yet another ham sandwich.