One of my favorite appetizers of all times is Andrew Carmellini's herbed ricotta with grilled crostini at Locanda Verde. Creamy fresh sheep's milk ricotta is whipped together with milk, seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, and herbs (he uses fresh thyme and dried oregano), and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. The combo is, quite frankly, dangerously good.

I have made my own version of this dish many times at home, eliminating the milk (I like the texture to be a bit more rustic), playing around with the herbs and seasonings, and adding a variety different toppings. I love adding fresh basil in the summertime, topped with oven-roasted tomatoes, or slices of grilled eggplant or zucchini.

But one of my all time favorite toppings, especially in late summer and early fall, is fresh figs. The mild, herb-filled ricotta is the perfect compliment to sweet, ripe, fig slices.  And, if you have some prosciutto, even better! Best of all, this appetizer is so easy to assemble: make the ricotta spread up to a day ahead, and simply assemble the crostini before your guests arrive.