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Lactose free lemon ricotta with summer tomatoes and basil

Lactose free, gluten free, FODMAP friendly

Equipment

  • Muslin cloth or a nut milk bag

Ingredients
  

To make the lemon ricotta:

  • 1 litre full cream lactose free milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (you can also use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar but these leave more of an aftertaste than lemon juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, or to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon, or to taste
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

To finish the tomato salad:

  • 500g fresh summer tomatoes (I like a mix of chopped and whole)
  • Good quality balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • Good quality olive oil, to taste
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt flakes, to taste
  • Bunch of summer basil

Instructions
 

To make the ricotta:

  • Place the milk in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Allow the milk to come to a simmer – about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the milk is gently bubbling, turn the heat off and remove from the heat and the stove. Add the lemon juice and salt. Stir gently, only just to distribute the acid in the milk. Allow to sit for 15 minutes – the mixture should have curdled and become obvious ‘curds and whey.’ There should be ricotta like lumps of milk and an semi-transparent lemon coloured liquid
  • If the liquid is still milky and completely opaque, return the ricotta to a gentle heat until it begins to separate, and then take it off the heat again. You can add a little extra acid (a teaspoon at a time) as an insurance policy, although this might affect the taste of the final product.
  • Once you have left the mixture to sit for 15 minutes, the mixture should have obviously separated into the two distinct elements. Gently pour the ricotta through a sieve lined with muslin cloth or a nut milk bag. You can discard the whey or use it in smoothies or baking – see notes for a few more ideas.
  • How long you strain the ricotta is up to you – it depends on how runny you like your ricotta. I like mine on the more spreadable side, so I either give mine a good old squeeze and decant, or strain mine for a maximum of around 20 minutes. Anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour is a good ballpark. If you accidentally overstrain, you can add a little milk to loosen it up.
  • Check for seasoning and add in the lemon zest and pepper. Allow to cool, and if you're not using immediately, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To assemble the salad:

  • Place the washed and prepared (chopped or whole) tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients according to your taste, leaving some fresh basil leaves for the top. Mix to combine the flavours.
  • Spread the ricotta over the base of your serving platter, and then top with the tomatoes. Add an extra drizzle of balsamic and olive oil around the edges, and then finish with salt, pepper, extra basil leaves and maybe an extra fine grating of lemon zest.