Baked ricotta with enough heart to make you beat those Damn Yankees!
You’ve Gotta Have Heart may not be the song’s title (Heart) but if you don’t come out of a performance of Damn Yankees singing that line to yourself, then there’s something seriously wrong with your soul, or maybe you’ve entered into a pact with the devil, like Joe Boyd, the show’s protagonist with the dream to see his baseball team, the Senators, beat those “damn Yankees”. Heart is the Senators’ rousing anthem through which the team pledge to put their all into the game despite slim chances of success. Based on Douglass Wallop’s novel The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant with music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (of The Pajama Game fame) the show was a massive award-winning hit in 1956 with multiple revivals since.
Check out our other Damn Yankees recipe/art installation, Ham Yankees…
If you’ve gotta have heart, then you’ve gotta have ricotta… heart-shaped, for Valentine’s Day, of course.
To enjoy my hot saucy love-cheese, form the ricotta into 2 heart-shapes, using a suitable mould, onto a sheet of baking parchment. Cover the surface of the ricotta in the chopped herbs and seasoning (don’t be too shy with the salt), pressing them into the cheese gently (it’s easier to do this still in the mould). Dust with a pinch of paprika. You could of course vary the herbs, or add some chilli or other spices. Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for 20 minutes until a golden crust has formed. Of course, this doesn’t have to heart-shaped and you can bake the ricotta whole (for 45-60mins).
Meanwhile, soften the onion in a little oil and add the garlic and the tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes, crushing the tomatoes with a spoon if using whole ones. Drain, rinse and roughly chop the peppers (I used a 460g jar which yielded 360g when drained – it’s worth checking the peppers for seeds and charred skin). When the acidity has been cooked out of the tomato sauce, add the peppers and bring back to a simmer. Tip the contents into a small food processor (or use a stick blender) and blend to a smooth purée. Taste and adjust seasoning and add a little water to loosen it up if too thick. Keep warm. This could be prepared in advance.
Carefully transfer each baked ricotta to two plates or shallow bowls and gently pour some of the red pepper sauce around the heart. Serve with some hot crusty bread and dim the lights…