A simple recipe that will get the party started.

| By Rachael Thompson | Recipes

Paola Bacchia’s Baked Ricotta with Basil Pesto and Confit Cherry Tomatoes

A simple recipe that will get the party started.

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, the author of 'Italian Street Food' and 'Istria', Paola Bacchia shares her recipe for baked ricotta with basil pesto and confit cherry tomatoes.


For the confit cherry tomatoes

  • 400g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the baked ricotta

  • 600g ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 big handfuls of parmesan cheese, grated

For the basil pesto

  • 1 big bunch of basil, leaves picked
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 20g pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra if needed)
  • 30g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Extra basil leaves to serve


To make the confit tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 110C fan.

Place the washed and dried tomatoes in an oven-proof tray with the garlic slices, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the contents well using your hands and place in the oven.

Bake for 60 – 80 minutes (the exact time depends on the size of the tomatoes) until the tomatoes are starting to collapse but are still whole.

Store the tomatoes (and all the lovely oil) in a lidded container in the fridge until needed. They will last for a couple of weeks, and the oil is delicious for dipping bread (or drizzling on pasta). Take out of the fridge for a few hours before using.

To make the baked ricotta

Preheat the oven to 130C fan.

Grease and line the base and sides of a springform 20 – 22cm diameter cake tin.

Place the ricotta in a large bowl and mash with a fork.

Mix in the eggs and parmesan until well combined then add salt to taste. You can add more parmesan if you like at this point. You can also use a food processor to combine all the ingredients.

Tip into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the back of a large spoon.

Bake for 60 – 70 minutes until the ricotta is firm to touch and the top is golden brown.

Allow to cool about 30 minutes until unmoulding.

To make the basil pesto

Place the leaves and a pinch of salt in the mortar/blender and pound/blend until it starts to become creamy.

Add the pine nuts and pound gently (it is nice for there to be some chunky pieces) and then pour in as much olive oil as you need to make a creamy texture paste.

Add the parmesan and stir well to combine.

Add more olive oil if the mixture is too thick; it should be pourable.

Add salt to taste.

You can use it immediately or else place it in a clean jar, cover with more olive oil and then close with a lid (will keep for a few weeks if covered in oil).

To assemble

Place the baked ricotta on a serving dish, spoon over some of the basil pesto, spreading it over the top.

Scatter on the confit cherry tomatoes (as many as you like) and some of the lovely garlicky oil. Decorate with extra basil leaves and serve with extra confit cherry tomatoes on the side.

If you don’t finish the whole dish, it will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

For more from Paola follow her at @italyonmymind

Photography by Maddie Roux. Styling by Beck Simon.

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