Spring Asparagus with Citrus, Whipped Ricotta and Cream Cheese

June 7, 2011 | By | COMMENTS

This is a sponsored review from BlogHer and Kraft.

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When BlogHer approached me and asked if I wanted to develop recipes for their “Real Women of Philadelphia” campaign, I had three immediate reactions: 1. I’m not a woman; 2. I’m not from Philadelphia; and 3. Me? Develop recipes? How flattering. I’m going to say yes!

Thinking about what I wanted to make, I considered the fact that it was springtime and built from there. I bought some asparagus and peeled the stems:

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Then I poached the asparagus in simmering salted water just until, lifting an individual asparagus up by its end with a pair of tongs, it sagged. Then I shocked them in ice water:

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And patted them very dry with paper towels:

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I decided to make a citrus vinaigrette by shaking together lemon zest, orange zest, lemon juice, orange juice, a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil in a small jar:

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Finally, I decided to create a base using ricotta cheese, our featured product—PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese—and herbs.

In a stand mixer, I added 1 1/2 cups of fresh ricotta cheese and ¼ cup PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, along with some chopped mint, chives and parsley:

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I whipped it on medium/high speed until it was light and airy.

The rest was easy. I tossed the asparagus with some of the citrus dressing, then spooned the ricotta/cream cheese mixture on to plates. I topped with the asparagus, a little more dressing and some segmented oranges and chopped red onion (for crunch and color).

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Considering that this is the first recipe I’ve ever been asked to develop, I think I did very well! It’s a lovely, colorful burst of spring on a plate that makes a great first course at a dinner party. Here’s the recipe broken down more specifically.

Spring Asparagus with Citrus, Whipped Ricotta and Cream Cheese

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus

1 orange (for dressing), plus 1 more orange segmented (or “supremed”)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ cup to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups fresh ricotta cheese

¼ cup PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese

¼ cup chopped herbs (mint, chives, parsley)

½ cup chopped red onion

Fleur de sel (optional)

1. Prep your asparagus by snapping off the tough ends and peeling away any thorny bits. Rinse quickly under cold running water.

2. Bring a wide pot of water to a boil (I like using my Dutch oven for this), season with salt and drop in the asparagus. Blanch just until tender (see tong technique in post above) and then shock in a large bowl of ice water. Remove the asparagus and pat very dry with paper towels. Set aside.

3. Make a dressing by zesting both the orange and the lemon into a small jar, adding the juice from both, a pinch of salt and pepper, the white wine vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil. Put the lid on the jar and shake, shake, shake! When you have an emulsified dressing, unscrew the lid, dip your finger in and taste. Too acidic? Add more oil. Not acidic enough? Add more white wine vinegar. Pour some of the dressing over the asparagus and allow it to marinate.

4. In a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the ricotta cheese (pour off some of the liquid first), the cream cheese and the herbs. Whip them on medium-high speed until everything looks airy and fluffy.

5. To plate, spoon some of the ricotta mixture on to cold plates. Top with asparagus, a little more of the dressing, the orange segments and the chopped red onion. A sprinkling of fleur de sel wouldn’t hurt, nor would a final grind of pepper. Serve right away.

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For more great recipes visit the Real Women of Philadelphia website and check out all the finalist recipes (winner will be streamed live on the site at the cook-off and live event in Savannah, GA on June 30th). Come back here and tell us your favorite recipe and why you want to try it in the comments. We love to hear what looks good to you. Also, don’t miss BlogHer’s round-up of other blogger recipes.

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