We'd have pastries and lattes at the bakery below the hotel every morning, and spend our days wandering through museums and galleries, eating amazing spicy New Mexican food, drinking strong margaritas, perusing jewelry sold by street vendors on the plaza, etc, into bliss. We spent one morning meandering through the arts district and found ourselves at a cute, funky little tea house at lunch time (our first departure from New Mexican food, not counting pastries). I had a tasty oolong and an incredible (and memorable) baked ricotta sandwich. Brock had some weird bright-green foamy tea (matcha?), and a lunch that wasn't quite as memorable.
But the ricotta... This was the first (and still only) time I'd had baked ricotta at a restaurant, and I never was able to find a decent recipe for it, so I created this one.
Best dang sandwich this side of Santa Fe, if I do say so myself.
the veggies (etc):
-for the ricotta:
- Olive oil, for prepping the baking dish
- 32 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
-for the sandwiches:
- Your favorite bread, sliced
- Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- Roasted red peppers, cut into strips (4-6 strips per sandwich)
- Baby spinach, large stems removed (about 6 leaves per sandwich)
- Fresh basil, chiffonaded (did I conjugate this correctly?-- Or, in other words, shredded; a tablespoon or two per sandwich)
-for the ricotta:
- Oil a 9x9" (or slightly larger)* glass baking dish and preheat your oven to 350°.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta and eggs until well-incorporated.
- Add the garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Spread the mixture evenly into your prepared dish.
- Bake for about an hour, or until the ricotta is firm in the center.
- Cool slightly or completely before cutting.**
-for the sandwiches:***
- Slice the ricotta into rectangles,trapezoids, or whatever shape and size best fits your bread. Munch on any small odd-shaped pieces while you assemble sandwiches (good stuff, huh?).
- Top a slice of bread with a piece of ricotta, then drizzle with balsamic.
- Top that with a few strips of roasted peppers and several spinach leaves, then sprinkle with some basil shreds.
- Top with the other piece of bread and savor while contemplating the art of Georgia O'Keeffe.
*I make mine in a 9x9" dish, and the ricotta comes out pretty thick. It's good this way, but sometimes a little messy. In a slightly larger dish you'd get thinner slices but more of them, which could be a good thing...
**I often make this ahead of time and refrigerate until I'm ready to use it. It tastes good at any temperature, but is nice and firm (thus less messy to eat) when cold.
**This is just what Brock and I like on these-- but there are probably a million ways you could dress up this ricotta and still have it taste fantastic. For my boys, I just serve it plain on regular whole-wheat sandwich bread.