As I said last time, one problem with the recipe for the manicotti is that there is usually some ricotta cheese left over. Not wanting it to go to waste, I tried a number of things.
I tried it as a sandwich spread, but I decided I didn’t like it much. Not much flavor, soft consistency, I found it added little to a sandwich.
With the goal of making a sandwich spread I could taste, I set about adding some stuff to the ricotta. After a few uninspiring results, I hit on the recipe that follows.
I use Ken’s Lite Olive Oil Vinaigrette in another recipe (which I will post later), and I like it as a dressing, so I usually have some around. I mixed it in equal proportion with the ricotta (for my test batch, it was a spoonful of each). To give it a little kick (and because I had a little left in the jar in the fridge), I added a bit of Sambal Oelek chili paste. Tasted great!
Tasted great, but it still didn’t work for me as a sandwich spread.
Ah, but as a dip…
I found, though, that it works better with some crackers than with others. The light, flaky crackers like Ritz don’t go well in my opinion. This dip requires something a little more substantial, a little more dense, like a Triscuit (my personal choice), or perhaps a Wheat Thin might be substantial enough. Corn chips are certainly solid enough, but I think the wrong flavor combination, but feel free to make your own decisions on this subject, and please leave your suggestions in the comments.
Also on the consistency front, add the dressing to the ricotta (rather than the other way around). For one thing, the mixing is easier, and for another, if you add too much dressing, the dip becomes runny. You want enough dressing to have the flavor, but enough viscosity to keep the dip on the cracker or chip.
As fas as the dressing, I’ve also tried making this with Ken’s Balsamic & Basil Vinaigrette, which was ok, though I didn’t like it quite as much, and with HEB Light Balsamic Vinaigrette, which was pretty good. I suspect that a vinaigrette with citrus or raspberry might do well, though I haven’t tried yet.
The chili paste is, I think, an essential ingredient for the dip. The dressing provides a lot of the flavor, but the chili paste has its own flavor in addition to the heat it brings.
It is easy to make this in small test batches to see just what proportions work for you, to validate the flavor and consistency is acceptable to you. Experiment with what you have around the house to get other flavor combinations and tell me what you discover! (I recommend NOT using creamy dressings, like Ranch, Thousand Island, and so on.)
Anyway, here is my guide for making Cold Hot Dip:
- Mix roughly equal portions of ricotta cheese and a vinaigrette dressing of your choice
- Add a generous helping of a chili paste (I do like the Sambal Oelek)
- Serve cold in a bowl with something to dip with.
A very easy and tasty way to dispose of the extra portion of ricotta cheese after making manicotti.
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