Cottage Cheese: Your New Secret Ingredient
Humble cottage cheese has a lot to recommend it: High-protein, tasty and versatile in the kitchen. Not convinced? Try these tricks and you'll see it in a new light.
Cottage cheese? really?
Boring. Lumpy. A “diet food.” Does any of that ring a bell? Despite being a fridge staple in many American homes, cottage cheese gets a bad rap. We're here to change that.
As American as… cottage cheese?
Cottage cheese is totally mid-century—mid-19th century, that is. The first use of the term “cottage cheese” was in 1831. Not surprisingly, it probably derives its name from the fact that it was made in cottages. It’s also thought to the first cheese ever made in America. Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese (like Indian paneer and Italian ricotta) made by adding an acid to skim milk or cream - anything from vinegar to lemon juice.
It really is good for you
Cottage cheese's diet-food reputation has merit: It is rich in the protein casein, which curbs hunger and increases satiety, according to the National Dairy Association. Cottage cheese is high-protein, low-carb, and, depending on what kind you buy, low-fat.
Smooth it out
Cottage cheese’s lumpy texture need not dissuade you from using it even if you want a creamy effect, such as using it as a lower-fat alternative to cream cheese or sour cream, or in place of Greek yogurt. Simply empty a tub of cottage cheese into the blender or food processor and give it a whir on medium until it’s creamy. Now you’ve got a smooth cheese filling for appetizers or desserts, with a prep time of about 2 minutes.
Zing it up
Cottage cheese’s neutral-tangy taste makes it an excellent flat-bed for trucking in other flavors, be they sweet or savory. Drop a peeled and seeded cucumber, a jalapeno or a handful of fresh basil into the blender along with your cottage cheese and you can imbue it with any flavor on the spectrum from bold to subtle. Fresh or frozen fruit works well too. You can also use the blended cottage cheese to thicken soups, bestowing them with a creamy, velvety texture without jacking up your calorie count by much.
Tip: If creamy texture is your main goal here, you’re better off choosing a four-percent fat version over the fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese options.
Speaking of smooth
Nowhere is it written in stone that if you want a dairy base for your smoothie or protein shake that it must be yogurt. To say the very least, there is nothing wrong with yogurt, but you may find that the less-tangy flavor of cottage cheese is a pleasant change of pace. It also has a bit more protein than yogurt, and if you’re dieting, cottage cheese’s superior satiety factor could work to your advantage.
Pipe it in (or on)
Once blended, consider using a pastry pipe to squirt your flavored cottage cheese into jalapeño halves, celery, slices of bell pepper or other vehicles for appetizers (use endive leaves if you’re feeling fancy!). Just spoon it into the plastic bag straight from the blender.
An authentic American lasagna recipe
If you like lasagna, stuffed pasta shells and such other pasta dishes, you’ll find that most recipes will call for ricotta cheese. Well, Americans of the aforementioned Nixon era would have no such nonsense. This was mainly because nobody ever had even heard of ricotta back then. Yet, Americans ate lasagna like every day was Michaelangelo’s birthday, and they made it with cottage cheese and red sauce. Lasagna made with cottage cheese instead of (or in addition to) ricotta is a comfort food that many of us grew up on. Cottage cheese is also less expensive than ricotta.
Guilt-free baked potatoes
Everybody loves baked potatoes. The problems start with all of the high-fat goodness, in the form of butter and sour cream, that’s usually part of what makes them so very lovable. No worries: Here comes that blended and flavored cottage cheese to the rescue. And it’s riding a white horse!
Photo by Ola Mishchenko on Unsplash
Here are some other cottage cheese tips and tricks that we love:
- Use it to lend a creamy texture to mashed potatoes (use small-curd cottage cheese for this and it will effectively disappear into the spuds.)
- Spoon a dollop into a bowl of hot tomato soup for a flavor that’s part sour-cream-y, part extra-cheesey.
- Mix it into mac and cheese when you add the rest of the cheese for extra tang.
- Spoon it onto a baked (or sweet) potato and top with chopped raw onion
- Spread it on rye bread toast
- Add it in with the egg in an omelet for extra flavor
- Use it as an omelet filling with chives, onions, shredded cheddar or chopped mushrooms
There are a lot of amazing cottage cheese recipes out there, but here are a few of the most delightfully unexpected:
Make cottage-cheese pancakes:
Light and Fluffy Pancakes (with cottage cheese) Recipe
Use it in a better-for-you veggie dip:
Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese Dip with Dill Recipe
Use them to add tender texture to bun or biscuit dough:
Quick Cottage Cheese Buns Recipe
Add it to cornbread for moisture and flavor:
Broccoli Cornbread Recipe