What’s the first thing to come to mind when someone brings up “cottage cheese”? Retro diet food surfing through a buffet atop leaf lettuce or cantaloupe? Bodybuilding “go-to” snack? Or, worst of all, “boring”? Cottage cheese has endured all of these stereotypes and lived to tell the tale because – above all else – it’s gallons of kitchen versatility packed into 1-quart containers.
Cottage cheese, as we all know it, is a mixture of cheese curds that are not fully strained, so some of the whey is left behind. Available in a flavorful array of nonfat to full-fat varieties, this Supermarket Score is packed full of calcium, protein, and Vitamins A & D. In fact, when paired against its other dairy case companions cream cheese and sour cream, it boasts almost half the calories and triple (yes, as in three times more) protein per serving.
“But that’s like comparing apples to oranges!”, you may say. “They’re nothing alike!”, you persistently contend. I challenge you to think again with these super easy, super delicious ways to get cottage cheese out of the cantaloupe and into your culinary tool belt.
If you’re someone who favors a meat-free diet – or maybe are just trying to cut down on eating meat – keep your next lasagna packed with protein by layering cottage cheese into it. It tastes just like the classic ricotta we all know and love and packs a much stronger nutritional punch. Sneak it into your next Meatless Monday dinner and I’d put down 10-to-1 that no one knows the difference.
Super Powered Sour Cream
I grew up in a family that loved sour cream with a dad who was very nutrition and exercise conscious. Since the two don’t inherently go together, to keep both parties happy we’d put his favorite post-workout snack together with the family’s favorite chili topping. Puree together equal parts sour cream and low fat cottage cheese and your now nutritionally super-charged condiment will have even the most discerning eater dolloping more on.
Love the creamy decadence of mayo but bummed out that a serving size in only 1 tablespoon? If you’re as weirded out by “reduced fat mayo” as I am, whip up this quick Make-Your-Own mayo at home and slather on the guilt-free goodness. In a food processor, combine the flesh of 1 ripe avocado with 1 cup low fat cottage cheese. Puree until smooth with a dash of salt and fresh pepper and brace yourself, because you just might give up mayo for good.
Instant Vanilla Sauce
You can even bring cottage cheese to the end of the party as it makes an amazing instant dessert sauce (NOTE: when using this variation, try and find a cottage cheese with little to no salt added). Put 1 cup of cottage cheese in the blender with 2 teaspoons of vanilla sauce, 3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar or honey, the zest and juice of half of a lemon, and 1/4 cup milk. Puree until the sauce is smooth and pourable and you’ve got yourself an instant guilt-free vanilla sauce. Serve some up over cake or fresh berries and watch the dinner table bow down in awe of your pastry prowess.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has. Probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team on Rachael’s daytime talk show, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest twEATs on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.