I grew up in a traditional Italian family in Rochester, New York, and my grandmother, from Naples, lived with us. This was one of the treats that she’d make for breakfast. We had a family-style grocery in the neighborhood and it was easy to get Italian products, especially fresh ricotta. Make this on a Sunday morning with your kids or as a refreshing summertime dessert.
1 cup ricotta cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tablespoon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup simple syrup
1 whole star anise
1 cup mixed strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries
8¾-inch-thick slices Italian bread
In a large bowl, combine the cheese, zest from 1 lemon, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Mix until incorporated.
In a nonreactive saucepan, bring the syrup, star anise, and remaining 1 tablespoon zest to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the berries. Simmer until the berries have softened. Remove the star anise; discard. Remove the marmalade from the heat and let it cool. Set it aside.
Heat the oven on the broiler setting.
Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the oven. Spread each toast liberally with the ricotta mixture. Top each with a generous spoonful of the berry marmalade.