Some Greenmarketers look to the ramps. Some believe in waiting it out for the asparagus. Others, however, insist that it’s not until the sheep’s-milk ricotta from Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, New York, arrives that it’s safe to say that spring is here and all is right with the world. If you’re of this last camp, you must already know that the cheese is available now, on Fridays only at Union Square, and that it’s terrific on its own or with a drizzle of honey, but equally spectacular for making gnocchi, cavatelli, cheesecake, even panna cotta.
Sara Jenkins’s Sheep’s-Milk-Ricotta Panna Cotta
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of one orange
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cup sheep’s-milk ricotta
3 large egg whites
6 tsp. pistachio oil (at SOS Chefs)
6 tsp. pistachios, toasted and chopped
Combine 1/4 cup of the cream with gelatin in a bowl and let gelatin soften. Combine remaining cream, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla bean in a saucepan, bring to a low boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Scrape seeds from bean and add to cream. (1) Strain hot cream through a fine-mesh strainer into bowl with gelatin mixture; discard orange zest. (2) Rice and whisk the ricotta into the cream. Whisk until gelatin is totally dissolved. Set bowl over an ice bath and stir until cooled to room temperature. Stiffly beat the egg whites and gently whisk in half of the whites, then fold in the other half. (3) Transfer mixture to individual dessert cups and let set in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Garnish with drizzle of pistachio oil and toasted pistachio.