Gâteau de Ricotta au Concombre et Asperges (Ricotta Cake with Cucumber and Asparagus)



2 cups ricotta
2 small cucumbers
12 stalks of green asparagus
5 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs black sesame seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Wash the cucumbers, slice them thinly and add salt. Stir lightly to mix in the salt. Let the cucumbers rest for 10 minutes. Peel the asparagus and cut off the tough end of each stalk. Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, and when the pan is hot, add the asparagus stalks in a single layer. Add salt and cook for a few minutes, until slightly brown. Rinse the cucumbers to get rid of the salt. Pat them dry in a paper towel. Fill four 1/2-cup molds with ricotta and invert each one onto the center of a plate. (Laure, my friend who first made this for me and a few friends one day in Paris, used bright yellow plates. It made for a gorgeous presentation.) Top each ricotta "cake" with cucumber slices. Pour one tablespoon of olive oil on each "cake," sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and season with freshly ground pepper. Put 3 stalks of asparagus on each plate, and serve with a slice of either flax, olive or seven-grain bread. Serve immediately with a glass of white wine: a pinot blanc from Alsace works well.