This Italian picnic menu will let you pretend you’re dining al fresco at a villa in Tuscany. For a recent Sunday get-together with friends, the menu started with a plater of figs, currants, cantaloupe and proscuitto, and a plate of sliced cucumber and peppered salami. But the star of the show was the simple ricotta panini with fresh sage. The sage gets grilled into the bread and makes for a beautiful presentation. I got the idea from Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery.
Ricotta Grilled Cheese with Fresh Sage
2 thick slices of country bread
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
6 fresh sage leaves
2 tblsp butter
salt and fresh black pepper
1. Drain ricotta in cheesecloth in a colander set over a bowl for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat panini press on medium-high heat. Spread butter on outside of both slices of bread. Spread ricotta and season with salt and pepper. Close to make sandwich.
3. Press the sage leaves into the bread (it should stick to the butter). Press the sandwich in the panini maker until the bread is golden and crusty.