Ricotta is a wonderful ingredient. It fits really well in these times of trying to throw out as little as possible and reuse everything. The literal meaning of the word ricotta is “cooked again”; it’s made from the whey that is leftover after making cheese. This can come from cow, goat, sheep, or buffalo milk cheeses. And believe me, after making cheese, producers are left with liters of this light yellow, mildly sour liquid. It’s often used as pig feed. However, whey also contains proteins that will solidify once you reheat them—and you get the crumbly by-product called ricotta. Strictly speaking, ricotta can’t be called a cheese, but “protein-rich by-product” doesn’t sound particularly appealing, does it? Whatever it may be, I stirred heaps of ricotta in with the remaining vegetables from the Vegetable Soup with Pearl Barley, so I suppose you could say this pie is itself a by-product—and a delicious one at that!
Thoroughly grease a small springform pan (8½ or 9 inches/22 cm).
Blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water, scoop from the pan, and then cook the green beans until al dente; rinse with cold water. Press all the remaining water from the spinach and finely chop.
In a bowl, beat the ricotta, whole eggs, egg yolks, Parmesan, and lots of pepper until smooth. With a spoon, fold in all of the vegetables, including the scallions, and herbs and pour the mixture into the springform pan.
Let cool slightly and serve with a salad.
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