Cook this: Fresh ricotta with bottarga, peas, broad beans and asparagus from How Wild Things Are

‘I just want to eat these things all the time,’ says chef Analiese Gregory

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Our cookbook of the week is How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with the author.

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In How Wild Things Are, chef Analiese Gregory shares stories and recipes from her native New Zealand, travels to places such as France, Spain and Morocco, and her rural Tasmanian home. This dish of fresh ricotta with bottarga, peas, broad beans and asparagus was inspired by the way she likes to eat at her farmhouse in Tasmania when warm weather strikes.

“In that season in Tassie, I just want to eat these things all the time,” says Gregory. It’s not necessarily a cuisine of necessity, she adds, “but how I cook in Tasmania with just the things that are around me.”

Besides being a celebration of all things green grown in the Australian island state, the dish also highlights the ease of making your own fresh cheese. Gregory often makes her own ricotta and is on a mission to encourage others to do the same.

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The Italian fresh cheese is traditionally made using buffalo, cow, goat or sheep’s whey leftover from cheesemaking, but you can get a satisfyingly similar result using milk and an acid (here Gregory uses white vinegar). The acid coagulates the milk, which results in the formation of cheese curds.

If you have a cheese mould (or plastic basket from a store-bought container of ricotta), you can scoop the curds into that to drain. Alternatively, you could line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth.

“It really is that simple,” says Gregory. “The first time you make it, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this was so easy.’ It’s so good and so much better than buying something in a little tub.”

How Wild Things Are by Analiese Gregory
In her debut cookbook, How Wild Things Are, chef Analiese Gregory shares a slice of the slow-food life in Tasmania. Photo by Hardie Grant

FRESH RICOTTA WITH BOTTARGA, PEAS, BROAD BEANS AND ASPARAGUS

80 g (2 3/4 oz) fresh podded peas
100 g (3 1/2 oz) podded broad beans
70 g (2 1/2 oz) sugar-snap peas
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch broad bean leaves
Bottarga (salted, cured mullet roe), to serve

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Ricotta:
1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) milk
125 mL (4 fl oz) cream
1 tsp salt
40 mL (1 1/4 fl oz) white vinegar

Vinaigrette:
50 ml (1 3/4 fl oz) olive oil
1 tbsp brown rice mirin
1/2 tbsp colatura (see note) or good-quality fish sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
15 g (1/2 oz) bottarga (see note)

Step 1

For the ricotta, add the milk, cream and salt to a saucepan, stir to combine and bring up to 90°C (190°F) over a low heat. Add the vinegar, stir and leave to sit for 1 hour. Scoop into an 8 cm (3 1/4 in) cheese mould (see note) and leave to drain.

Step 2

For the vinaigrette, combine all the liquids in a bowl and whisk, then microplane in the bottarga.

Step 3

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the vegetables, one at a time, for 30 seconds–1 minute, refreshing them in ice water immediately afterwards. Drain the vegetables. Cut the asparagus into rondelles (flat rounds), leaving the tips whole. Test the broad beans to see if they need to be double podded. Otherwise, leave the shells on.

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Step 4

Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette and the broad bean leaves and serve alongside the ricotta turned out of the mould. Grate some more bottarga over the top to serve.

Serves: 2–3

Notes: Colatura is an amber-coloured fish sauce made from anchovies.

Bottarga is the salted, pressed and dried roe sac of a fish. Eat it with vegetables, grate it over grains (such as risotto), pasta, scrambled eggs, or a slice of bread and butter for a unique hit of umami. Find it at Italian specialty stores and online.

If you don’t have a cheese mould, use a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to drain the ricotta.

Recipe and image excerpted from How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World by Analiese Gregory © 2021. Reproduced by permission of Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.

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Theresa D. Begay

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