There’s something so satisfying about making food that is just for you, when you can indulge your idiosyncratic, even embarrassingly bizarre, tastes. Peanut butter and marmalade on toast, anyone?! I’m a big fan of slightly confusing combinations of sweet and savoury – particularly fruit and cheese. Ricotta is one of my all time favourite cheeses, and here its creamy, grainy texture is a welcome compliment to fragrant basil oil and musky plums.
This idea started in my head as the more conventional, savoury combination of tomatoes, ricotta and basil, but then morphed, thanks to some attractive purple-hued plums, into a more unusual one. I was stumped as to how to assemble and eat the resulting concoction, given that it’s neither savoury, or sweet. I ended up eating a good proportion of it straight out of the bowl. Then I made pesto out of the leftover basil leaves, and assembled the lot on some posh crackers.
The basil oil recipe comes from Oliver Pratt, a chef who can talk so enthusiastically about any recipe that you immediately want to make it. You only need a drizzle for this recipe, so store the rest in an airtight bottle or jar.
For the basil oil:
2 handfuls of basil leaves
500ml olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed.
125g fresh ricotta cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
2 ripe plums
Crackers, to serve
First, make the basil oil. Wash the basil and put it in the bowl of a food processor, with roughly half of the olive oil, the garlic, lemon zest and juice, a pinch of salt. Blend until the basil has broken down, then add the remaining olive oil and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the oil through a sieve and pour into an airtight bottle or jar.
Put the ricotta in a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and a pinch of salt and good grind of pepper. Slice the plums and sit them on top of the ricotta, then drizzle over about 2 tbsp of the basil oil.