Whipped Basil Ricotta with Spring Crudité ~ a healthy ode to spring produce, this raw vegetable appetizer with a fluffy herb ricotta dip is the perfect way to welcome the new season.
What can I bring?
I always hope they say appetizers because that’s what I love to bring most. I especially love to collect the best of whatever’s in season and center it with some unexpected dip. I’ve shown the idea on the blog before with my Rainbow Crudités with Fire Feta. That one featured a spicy feta dip inspired by Mediterranean flavors. I love to ground the healthy crunch of raw veggies with something a little more substantial, and a cheesy dip really hits the spot.
Raw veggie platters get a bad rap because they’re often served with a thin tasteless yogurt dip, or an unappealing bottled ranch dressing. When you ground them with a delicious dip they become irresistible.
Even if you’re not throwing a party, I love to pack prepped veggies like this with the dip for healthy snacks. Packed in small storage containers, covered with a damp paper towel, they’ll keep for days in the fridge.
Crudités are a year round appetizer, but they really shine in the spring. Take a look around your produce section, or hit the the first farmers market of the season for young spring veggies like baby carrots, French beans, radishes, or the baby turnips, below. They taste especially good right now when we’re coming off a winter’s worth of comfort food and we’re naturally craving something fresh and crunchy.
A great cheesy dip makes all those healthy veggies even more enticing, and it really helps those who need a little convincing when it comes to purple cauliflower and radishes. For this whipped basil ricotta I mix two of my favorite things: soft creamy ricotta and a zesty homemade pesto sauce. The result is creamy, herby, and so good.
This whipped basil ricotta is so good you’ll want to use it in other ways, too, like as a dip for warm bread, or as a quick pasta sauce.
I buy the best full fat ricotta for this recipe, but of course if you have the time you can make your own homemade ricotta, recipe here. It only takes minutes!
Crudité by the numbers ~
1. yellow bell pepper (cut into strips)
2. watermelon radish (don’t peel and slice into very thin rounds, then cut in half moons)
3. baby carrots (peel and leave 1/4 inch of the greens attached)
4. cucumber (don’t peel, and slice into sticks)
5. radish (leave 1/4 inch of the greens attached, cut larger radishes in half or in wedges)
6. golden beets (peel, slice into very thin rounds, then cut in half moons)
7. jicama (peel and slice into match sticks)
8. spring onion (trim and slice into the green part with the tip of a knife so they fan out)
9. red bell pepper (cut into strips)
10. purple cauliflower (separate into small florets or slices)
11. French green beans (leave whole)
12. cherry tomatoes (leave whole and provide toothpicks)
13. baby turnips (halve and leave 1/4 inch of greens attached)
14. baby yellow carrots (peel and leave a 1/4 inch of greens attached)
Whipped Basil Ricotta with Crisp Spring Veggies
whipped basil ricotta
- 4 ounces fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Tbsp pine nuts
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher or sea salt
- fresh cracked black pepper optional
- 8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- baby carrots
- small cucumber sticks
- golden beets peeled and sliced very thin
- jicama peeled and cut in matchsticks
- small green onions
- red pepper strips
- purple cauliflower florets
- French green beans
- cherry tomatoes
- yellow bell pepper strips
- watermelon radish sliced very thin
- Rinse and remove the thick stems from the basil, smaller stems are fine. Load it into a food processor. Add the garlic, pine nuts, and the juice of 1/2 the lemon. Process, scraping down the sides, until the basil is well broken down and becomes a rough paste.
- Add the olive oil and process further until the sauce is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the machine to get everything incorporated. Taste the pesto to adjust the lemon and add salt to taste. I added the juice from the other half of the lemon.
- Add the ricotta to the bowl of the food processor and process until everything is well combined and smooth.
- Taste one last time to adjust the salt, and then chill until needed. Add fresh cracked black pepper if you like.
- Serve the basil ricotta in the center of a plate of fresh vegetable crudité.
- Craving carbs? Ditch the veggies and serve your whipped basil ricotta with warm rolls or bread, it's wonderful that way too.
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