Superficially, even great recipes can sometimes be underdogs. Like a kind of Clark Kent, they seem innocuous on first glance—boring even—but when needed, they can transform into a superhero and save the day…or in our case, save the dish!
Almond Ricotta is one such recipe. Its inclusion in our wellness book Smart Plants usually goes unnoticed, as it’s surrounded by so many other show-stealing temptations like Berry-Almond Amaranth Porridge, Chimichurri Mushroom Tacos, or Citrus Sweet Potatoes. (Watch the book trailer here!) But make no mistake, this Almond Ricotta is one of the most versatile recipes you can add to your larder. Think of it as an instant gourmet upgrade to your everyday healthy meals!
A soft, salty, creamy cheese, it’s easy to see why ricotta is such a favorite of professional chefs and home cooks alike. But with so many individuals choosing to avoid or reduce dairy to improve health conditions ranging from brain health to even bone health, many wellness experts are putting this culinary delight on the “no” list. Fortunately, we’re able to easily recreate much of the ricotta experience sans dairy by using nuts instead, allowing us to enjoy better health without making any kind of flavor sacrifice.
Even better, creating non-dairy ricotta at home (as opposed to buying it at the store) offers a huge cost savings … and likely you’ll find more culinary applications for it than you ever dreamed of! So don’t pass by this “underdog” how-to recipe: learn how to make this excitingly delicious staple and instantly transform even your plainest meals into something extra special.
Interested in more brain-boosting nutrition? Check out our popular introduction course: Natural Nootropics 101
WATCH HOW WE MAKE THE ALMOND RICOTTA FROM SMART PLANTS:
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ALMOND RICOTTA PREP TIPS:
To get the best results, practice these pointers while making your Almond Ricotta.
Use blanched almonds. Blanched almonds have had their skin removed, and produce a creamier ricotta both in color and in texture. We like to use the pre-slivered variety as it requires a shorter soak time and is easier for the blender to break down.
Drain very well. After soaking, be sure to remove as much water as possible from the almonds—this recipe is very moisture-sensitive, and can become too “loose” if extra water hasn’t been drained away properly.
Use a high-speed blender. Unfortunately, a regular blender won’t be able to grind down the nuts into a paste efficiently enough. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can also use a food processor, but you’ll need to process the mixture a bit longer until it’s smooth, and frequently stop the machine to scrape down the sides to mix in any stubborn almond morsels.
Add liquid only as needed. Since the goal is to make the ricotta as thick as possible, start with the smallest amount of water called for in the recipe and measure it carefully. Extra water can be added later if the almonds will no longer blend and are not yet ground down.
Be patient. While dairy ricotta has a slightly coarse texture, it is mostly smooth and very spreadable—this Almond Ricotta should have the same appearance. However, getting the almonds ground down to this point can take several minutes, and you may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides more than once. Just remember the longer you blend, the more “realistic” the cheesy texture.
ALMOND RICOTTA SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
Dollop on pasta (or use to fill lasagna, manicotti, etc.)
Spoon onto salads
Add to charcuterie boards (drizzled with a little olive oil and seasoning)
Spread onto sandwiches and wraps
Sprinkle atop vegetable sides
Mix into hummus
Smear on just about anything, from toast to celery ribs
MORE AMAZING RECIPES TO USE YOUR ALMOND RICOTTA:
Use this easy-to-make nondairy ricotta as a dip for vegetables, a spread for wraps, or as a topping for salads or pasta. Recipe reprinted with permission from Smart Plants, by Julie Morris, ©2019.
Cook Time: 10 mins | Rest Time: 4 hrs | Total Time: 4 hrs 10 mins Servings: 6 (Makes 1½ cups) Author: Julie Morris | Reprinted with permission from Smart Plants
1½ cups blanched, slivered almonds, soaked in water for 4-6 hours
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1½ teaspoons yellow miso paste (or use chickpea miso for a non-soy option)
¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt (unflavored)
2-4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1. Rinse and drain the almonds very well in a colander over the sink, shaking out as much excess moisture as possible.
2. Place the nuts in a blender, along with the lemon juice, salt, miso, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of the almond milk. On low speed, process the mixture into a ricotta-like puree, stopping the machine as needed and scraping down the sides to push the cheese down toward the blades. (You may need to do this several times, and it will likely take a few minutes to make the puree.) Add additional almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, only if needed to blend—the cheese mixture should be very thick.
3. Once the cheese is smooth and ricotta-like, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the cheese for a minimum of 4 hours before serving, to allow the flavors to meld and the cheese to set.
The finished ricotta can be refrigerated and enjoyed for up to 7 days.