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Deliciously Healthy Ways to Cook with Ricotta Cheese

When it comes to healthy, high-protein dairy in recipe hacks, it's usually cottage cheese that gets most of the attention. But part-skim or even nonfat ricotta deserves a place in your shopping cart, too. A 1/4-cup serving of part-skim ricotta cheese offers up 7 grams of protein and about 70 calories, depending on the brand. Nonfat ricotta will set you back anywhere from 30 to 45 calories per serving for the same amount of protein. You'll also get almost 15 percent of your daily calcium. Here are a few delicious ricotta recipes to get you started. (Meanwhile, if you love cheese—and who doesn't?—you'll probably want to stock up on the healthiest cheese on the planet.)

Ricotta Toast, Two Ways

Can't decide between sweet or savory? These toasts are a great way to make even a quick weekday breakfast seem luxurious.
Makes 2

Ingredients

  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Toast bread, and spread 2 tablespoons ricotta on each slice. 
  2. Top 2 slices with berries and honey. Top the other 2 slices with tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper.

Blueberry Ricotta Oatmeal

Ricotta elevates a simple bowl of oats into a creamy treat with a balanced mix of protein and complex carbs. 
Makes 2

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup blueberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil. Add oats, flaxseed, and cinnamon and lower heat. Cook on low until almost all liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Add vanilla and 1/2 cup of blueberries. Cook another minute. 
  3. Turn off heat and stir in ricotta. Pour oats in a bowl and top with remaining blueberries and almonds.

Fruit Pizza

Making your own crust using oats allows you to sneak in some whole grains. You can swap out the berries for whatever fruit you prefer.
Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups instant oats, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons cold butter or coconut oil
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or stevia
  • 2 cups mixed berries
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flakes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Process 1/2 cup oats in a food processor until the texture is floury. Mix oats, oat flour, cinnamon, and butter or coconut oil with clean hands or a pastry cutter until crumbly. 
  2. Press into lightly greased or parchment paper–lined 9-inch pie plate. Bake crust at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  3. Meanwhile, mix ricotta and syrup, honey, or stevia until desired sweetness is reached. 
  4. When crust is completely cooled, spoon ricotta onto surface and spread evenly. Top with fruit and sprinkle coconut flakes over top. Serve cold.

[Psst...Loving these healthy ricotta recipes from Jessica Cording? Check out her tasty twists on cauliflower rice.)

Peaches and Cream Ricotta Smoothie

The combo of protein and carbs in this smoothie makes a perfect post-workout drink.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk or 1% cow's milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup ice

Directions
Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Ricotta Cheesecake Dip 

Use this as a dip for your favorite fruit or in place of yogurt or cottage cheese for a snack or breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain nonfat or 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fat-free or part-skim ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon stevia

Directions
Process ingredients in a food processor until smooth. 

Ricotta and Spinach Omelet

Ricotta is surprisingly great in omelets. Add any other spices or herbs.
Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, coconut oil or butter
  • 1 egg and 2 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs, if preferred)
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, torn
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, coconut oil or butter
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Beat egg and egg whites in a small bowl. Mix in spinach and garlic powder.
  2. Heat oil or butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Pour egg mixture to coat.
  3. Cook until eggs are almost set and spread ricotta over half the omelet. Cook until cheese is warm and eggs are set.
  4. Fold omelet in half and slide onto a plate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meatless Monday Ricotta Pasta

This satisfying pasta dish offers up plenty of protein despite being meat-free.
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry whole-wheat pasta
  • water for cooking pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add pasta. Cook according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add zucchini and sauté until soft. Stir in peas and cook another minute until warmed through. Set aside.
  3. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return to pot. Toss vegetable mixture with pasta over low heat. Add ricotta. Toss until well-coated.
  4. Divide between four bowls. Top each with basil leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN

Jessica Cording is a registered dietitian and wellness writer with a passion for helping others experience a happier, calmer life through drama-free healthy eating.  More →

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