Warm Grapes, Toasted Pita Bread and Ricotta Salata – Recipe

Toasted Pita Bread, Grape and Ricotta Salata
Warm Grapes, Toasted Pita Bread and Ricotta Salata

I’m not sure whether to describe this dish as a salad, an appetizer, or a side dish. Whatever you call it, the combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and juicy, herbaceous and spicy is exciting and a little unusual. You could serve this as part of a meze, or an accompaniment to anything grilled in a Meditteranean or Middle Eastern vein.

Ricotta salata is a variation on fresh ricotta that has been pressed and salted. I like to use it for grating or shaving to finish a dish. It is indeed quite salty, so you don’t want to eat big chunks of it, and you need to go easy on adding additional salt when using it.  If you don’t have ricotta salata, feta would also work well here.

I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite set of spices to flavor this dish, so I’ve offered a few options below. If you twisted my arm, I’d probably pick the “fresh zaatar” variation, but try a few and and let me know which you like best.

Oh, and a bit of news: the cookbook I’m working on has had a schedule change. It will now be released by Harvard Common Press in spring 2012, rather than fall 2012 as we previously thought. I’m really excited to have it on shelves soon!

Warm Grapes, Toasted Pita Bread and Ricotta Salata
Vegetarian / Serves 2 / 10 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • pinch of chili flakes or Aleppo pepper
  • 1 thick pita bread cut into 1/2″ squares
  • 1 cup grapes, halved (and seeded if neceessary)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • Choose one of these spice mixtures (2-4 teaspoons total):
    • Toasted fennel and cumin seed
    • Zaatar
    • “Fresh zaatar” – toasted sesame seeds, sumac, fresh thyme leaves
    • Dukkah
    • Ras al hanout
  • 2 or 3 ounces ricotta salata cheese, thinly sliced or crumbled
  • handful of parsley leaves
  1. Put the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the chili flakes and pita. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the pita is nicely browned and somewhat crispy. Transfer the pita to a bowl and put the pan back on the heat.
  2. Without adding any more oil, saute the grapes for about 30 seconds, until warmed through but not falling apart. Add the grapes to the pita bread.
  3. Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and spice mixture and toss. Add the cheese and toss again, then taste and adjust seasoning. Ricotta salata is quite salty, so you may not need any salt, or just a pinch.
  4. Divide on serving plates, or leave in the large bowl. Finish with a drizzle of excellent olive oil. If you happen to have an orange-scented one like this beauty from ChefShop, this is a perfect spot to use it. Serve warm.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, April 18th, 2011 in Appetizers, Recipes, Salads.

9 Responses to “Warm Grapes, Toasted Pita Bread and Ricotta Salata – Recipe”

  1. April 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    I actually just bought some grapes with the intention of roasting them. But now I know their destiny includes being tossed with pita, ricotta salata and zaatar. Thanks!

  2. April 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    That sounds very tasty. I’m wondering if one could replace the ricotta salata with a vegan cheese?

  3. Michael Natkin
    April 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    @ks – if there is a vegan cheese you are partial to, you could certainly try that. I'd opt for something semi-soft and rather salty, or else add additional salt to the basic recipe.

  4. April 19, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Wow, this is interesting! And this can only be made within 10 minutes! It seems delicious and surely is healthy. :)

  5. April 19, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    very exciting news. dates are usually pushed back not fw…excellent news. like finding $10 in your jean pocket out of the laundry. :D

  6. April 23, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    I find the idea of warm grapes really strange, I would probably taste the if they were in front of me, but I am not sure if I would make them.

    Good one on your book, I hope it is not too much pressure to have a date forward, but if they say is ok it means that you are at a good point with it!

    ciao
    Alessandra

  7. April 23, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Hi there! I Just found your blog and absolutely MUST inform you how much I LOVE IT!!! I’m a healthfood blogger myself, and all of your recipes and pictures look so unbelievably tantalizing and delicious! Thanks for such great recipes and I look forward to making many (aka ALL!) of them! Hopefully this doesn’t seem too excited, but I really do love the recipes and ideas you post about!

  8. April 28, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    Grapes in a salad?! Never thought of that! very unique idea, I must try this special salad.

  9. July 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    This is just my kind of salad. We love using ricotto salata just as you do. That saltiness is just the thing to finish a dish. I’m reminded here of how much grapes can do for a salad and their sweetness against the saltiness of the cheese is perfect.

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