This dish has been on my recipe to-do list for a while and finally made it to the table when I cooked it for friends last week.
It’s deceptively simple but its vibrant colour palette boasts a definite ‘wow factor’ and if there’s such a thing as summer comfort food, this would certainly fall into the category.
The ricotta and whipped egg whites are gently coaxed together to create soft pillow-like pikelets; light and fluffy little clouds, concealed by a golden, crispy exterior.
The abundance of fresh herbs lifts the fritters to loftier heights still, resulting in light but satisfying fare that is perfect for summer supper.
You could serve the fritters with anything really (try a medley of ripe, juicy heirloom tomatoes with bocconcini, or smoked salmon and cream cheese) but this piquant beetroot relish is a brilliant addition.
Inspired by the beetroot relish featured with the original recipe in delicious. magazine, I changed tack and paired its mellow earthiness with the rich intensity of sun-dried tomatoes.
A small revelation was to use maple syrup for the sweet notes (instead of relying solely on sugar as many chutney recipes suggest) and I’ll definitely be using this more often in my kitchen in future.
Use sun-dried tomatoes in oil and don’t be too pedantic about draining them, as the seasoned preserving oil adds further depth to the sweet sharp twang of the relish.
ricotta fritters with beetroot relish & crème fraîche
adapted from the october 2014 issue of delicious. magazine
1 cup fresh ricotta
3 eggs, separated
2 tbsp grated parmesan
⅓ cup plain flour
30g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for frying
⅓ cup chives, chopped
⅓ cup chervil, chopped (alternatively use mint)
⅓ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 cups coarsely grated raw beetroot
¾ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bunch thyme, secured with cooking twine
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
1 handful of watercress, washed, leaves and smaller tendrils picked
1 handful of snowpea sprouts
To make the beetroot relish, place a small glug of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, grated beetroot and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for several minutes until the beetroot begins to soften.
Add the remaining ingredients – including the thyme bunch, kept whole – and half a cup of water. Season with salt, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for an hour or so until reduced and thickened.
Set aside to cool. Remove the thyme sprig from the cooled relish and discard. The relish can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
For the fritters, combine the ricotta, egg yolks, parmesan, flour, melted butter and herbs in a bowl. Season, then beat with a fork until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Place the egg whites in a separate bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk until soft peaks form and then fold, one spoonful at a time, into the ricotta mixture until just combined.
Heat a little butter in a frypan over medium-high heat. Add spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture to the pan to make four fritters, approximately 8 centimetres in diameter.
Cook for 1-2 minutes each side until golden, then transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter until all fritters are cooked.
Serve warm with the beetroot relish and dollops of crème fraîche, garnished with a side salad of watercress and snowpea sprouts.