April 27, 2010

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake, and a new perspective of cheesecakes...

There is something magical to me about flowers. One day they are barely just a bud, and the next they have opened up to the most beautiful and delicate things. Our roses have just started to bloom, and they are breath taking! I love waking up to see new flowers, and it reminds me if His new mercies everyday!

In light of the springtime, I have been trying to branch out a bit on my idea of certain foods. For example, I take a food item, such as zucchini, and I really try and "brainstorm" different ways I can prepare that item. I really like to cook seasonally, not only are fresh ingredients cheaper, but they are so much more flavorful and at their peak. I was browsing some websites, and came across this Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake.

As I was trying to take my own spin on things (I can't ever make a recipe without making some changes), and let me tell you, the cheesecake we had for dinner (yes you can have cheesecake for dinner...when it is made of zucchini that is) was incredible. The texture is so light, and the flavors take your palate on a wonderful and spring-filled journey. The original recipe calls for dill, an herb I have never been fond of. Instead of using dill, I went ahead and threw in some chives, and some fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden. Also I added a touch of cream cheese, and used feta cheese instead of goat (it was cheaper!). It is seriously the lightest cheesecake you will ever taste, and it really re-invents your "typical" idea of what dinner has to be. I think that is what I loved the best about it. We were eating a sophisticated and light cheesecake for dinner. Once we got over the fact that cheesecake does not have to be heavy and sweet (this is anything but sweet), we really enjoyed the change of pace. It is flecked with lemon zest, shallots, zucchini, and other fresh flavors. Personally I think it would make a great brunch item, or cocktail party appetizer as well. As good as it was on it's own (although we had a big chopped salad and grilled chicken on the side) next time I think I will try making some kind of tart crust to lay it in. I am interested to try the contrast of textures. It requires a couple of minutes of prep time, but no hands on time after that. Just pop it in the oven, and your good to go!

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
I made mine in a 9-inch springform pan, but if you don't have one, you can use any casserole dish around the same size. Also feel free to play around with the mix-ins. I used thyme, rosemary, and chives, but if you have other herbs you want to use feel free to swap. I shredded my zucchini with a large box grater, you want it to be fine shreds, but not mushy...

2 cups shredded zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 shallots, finely chopped (if you can't find shallots, you can use onions)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
zest of one lemon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter or oil (olive oil) a 9-inch springform pan.

Toss the Zucchini and salt in a strainer and let sit for ten minutes. Once set, ring out with a kitchen towel until no water is left. You really want to get all the liquid out (The salt brings out the moisture in the zucchini, and prevents sogging while baking).

While Zucchini sits, in a large mixing bowl mix ricotta, cream cheese, shallots, garlic, chives, rosemary, thyme, and lemon zest. Once incorporated, mix in eggs, and a pinch of pepper. Stir in zucchini until well mixed. Fill the springform pan with the ricotta mix, and place on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Then sprinkle the feta cheese on top, and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the cheesecake barely jiggles in the middle (it will set more as it rests). If the cheesecake is not browned, place under broiler until browned. Let cool completely, and serve at room temp. Top cheesecake with fresh chopped chives.


  1. Now that you changed the title of your comments, I'm going to have to post alot more frequently. YOU NEED ENCOURAGEMENT. And it saying 0 words of encouragment just doesn't cut it.

    So I think that your creativity and your verbalization of your dishes is great. Haven't had the time to try one yet, but I will soon.

    Love ya

  2. Ha Ha I didn't even think of how that would sounds..0 words of encouragement...Thank you! I am getting ready to post some baby food recipes I have been trying, so you will have to try some of those out on the new baby eventually!