An OOO (Our Of Office) reply for Rome would be something like: ‘I’m sorry, but we have completely shut down for the month of August. See ya on September 1st. And I really can’t care less where you shop, eat out or get information in the meantime. Bye!’

It’s not true that Rome shuts down for Ferragosto, because it already has. It’s EMPTY.

I’ll always associate Ferragosto with the hilarious Italian food movie, Pranzo di Ferragosto. Main character Gianni, a middle-aged bachelor, lives with his demanding elderly mother in Rome. On a blistering hot day, he finds himself stuck in the city with her and four other golden girls. He’s supposed to prepare them a traditional pranzo, a festive lunch, for which he manages to get some fish right out of the Tiber river. The geriatric quintet drives him nuts, and, in utter despair, he downs one glass of white wine after another. But in the end, they do find solace in each other.

Ferragosto is the holiday to commemorate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, but it has pagan roots as well. Traditionally it was a day to celebrate summer and the end of hard work in the fields. I didn’t make a sumptuous meal this Ferragosto, but something Simple & Summery. With lots of basil and lemon, flavors that epitomize the season.

Basil, Lemon & Ricotta Dip

Try to use the freshest ricotta you can find. I used ricotta di pecora, sheep’s whey ricotta, which has a stronger flavor than cow’s. When you grate the lemon, use only the yellow part of the rind, the white pith can be quite bitter.

  • 1.5 cups ricotta (about 300 gr)
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1 big handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of parmesan cheese (1/2 cup), grated
  • 1.5 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, basil and parmesan cheese. Don’t add all the lemon juice at once, but taste as you go. The dip shouldn’t be too tart. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Spread the dip on crostini and serve.


Author Irene

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  • Pieternel says:

    HI Irene,
    ter ere van jou terugkeer naar Rome heb ik eindelijk jouw heerlijke ricotta receptje gemaakt (al was het met een rottig kuipje uit de AH en half basilicum half platte peterselie) Desalniettemin heerlijk! Thanks voor inspiratie!!
    lfs Pieternel

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