baked ricotta with mushroom asparagus confit and balsamic brown butter

While I had this for dinner, I might call this my new favorite appetizer. I will absolutely be making this again - and in literally as many seasons as I can. It's kind of the appetizer opportunity for getting rid of the "extra leftover veggies" in your fridge. Except for the fact that I just never got around to cooking with these aspirational veggies. Aspirational veggies are the ones that you see in the store, aren't on your list, you buy them ... and then you eat Kraft Mac and Cheese.

But for New Years Eve, it seems appropriate to cook something and I do love to cook. I was originally going to make something that took hours to cook because it also felt appropriate - but time slipped away collecting sea glass and watching Hallmark movies. I found this gem on Food52 early in the day and knew that I'd love it. I still have no idea what a "confit" is but it almost sounds like confetti and that is really appropriate for New Years Eve.

A few things about this recipe:

  • FAST // You can be done with this in less than 25 minutes - and people will be really impressed. People are always impressed when you say "brown butter"
  • CARBS // this has to be eaten with some toast or crackers - and preferably something with minimal seasoning. Just cut up some sourdough bread or use like basic sea salt crackers. 
  • BUTTER // So, I'm probably never going to say this again but you don't need a lot of brown butter for this - in fact I think I added too much to my little dish.

Here's how it goes.
  1. To make the vegetable park: combine the oil, red pepper, and garlic in a medium heat skillet until the garlic is lightly toasted. Add the mushrooms, asparagus and wine and cover. Adjust the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the mushrooms have softened (approx 5 minutes). 
  2. Uncover and let the pan cook until the wine has evaporated. Pull from the heat but keep warm until ready to serve.
  3. To make the balsamic brown butter sauce, in a small pot, melt the butter over low heat and cook, stirring, until deep brown. I always think it starts to smell a bit nutty. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic and a touch of pepper.
  4. To make the ricotta: Set the broiler to high heat. Either put the ricotta into individual ramekins or 1 larger dish - up to you. Broil until browned across the top (5 - 20 minutes depending on what size dish you use). 
  5. To plate, just put you veggies on your ricotta and then drizzle with the brown butter. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.
Shopping List (for 4 servings)
For the mushroom confit:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 pound button mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the balsamic brown butter sauce
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
16 ounces ricotta
sea salt
Grilled bread or sliced baguette, for serving

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