We've baked some of the ricotta in this salad to add texture, and kept the remaining fresh for its beautiful creaminess. This is certainly a meal in its own right, but it would also be excellent served alongside grilled bistecca.
- 400 gm firm ricotta
- 125 ml extra-virgin olive oil (½ cup)
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon, juice of ½, or to taste
- 200 gm fregola (see note)
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 200 gm mixed cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- ½ cup mint (loosely packed)
- ½ cup basil (loosely packed)
- ½ cup baby rocket (loosely packed)
- 1Preheat oven to 200°C. Crumble half the ricotta over a baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp oil, scatter with chilli and half the lemon rind, season to taste and bake until golden on the edges (10-12 minutes). Cool.
- 2Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add fregola to a large frying pan over medium-high heat and dry-roast, stirring occasionally, until golden (8-10 minutes). Transfer to saucepan and boil until al dente (8-10 minutes). Drain well and transfer to a bowl, stir in 2 tsp oil and cool to room temperature.
- 3Combine garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and remaining rind and remaining oil in a jar, season to taste and stand for 5 minutes for garlic to soften and mellow. Just before serving, seal jar and shake well.
- 4Add tomatoes, herbs, rocket and baked ricotta to fregola, drizzle with dressing, season and toss to coat. Serve scattered with remaining fresh ricotta.
Fregola is available from select delicatessens and Italian grocers. If it’s not available, substitute risoni or freekeh (cooking time may vary).
Drink Suggestion: Pale, dry rosato Drink suggestion by Max Allen