Baked ricotta is a miraculously simple recipe base – you can make all manner of dishes with it using different herbs, olives and the like. I particularly recommend the sweetness of grapes, intensified in the oven, with walnuts and the salty piquancy of gorgonzola. Serve this as a starter with plenty of bread, or as a side dish for roast chicken or grilled steak accompanied by green beans, silverbeet or cavolo nero.
500g ricotta*, well drained and cut into chunky cubes
120ml pouring cream
150g gorgonzola piccante
150g seedless green or red grapes, cut in half
120g walnut halves
125ml extra virgin olive oil
15ml white wine vinegar
5 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
1. Preheat the oven to 210C (190C conventional).
2. Arrange the ricotta in a medium ovenproof dish. Season with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, drizzle over the cream and crumble over the gorgonzola.
3. Bruise the grapes a little with your hands in a bowl, so that they're semi-mashed. Add the walnuts, oil, vinegar and thyme, season and toss through, then scatter on top of the ricotta.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the ricotta is firm and golden on the edges and the gorgonzola has melted. Serve immediately in the dish.
*Tip: Make sure to use properly fresh ricotta from a deli for this; the type that comes in a plastic yoghurt-type tub simply won't do.