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RECIPES: Cottage cheese a sweet or savory ingredient fit for Miss Muffet

Curds and whey by Kelly Brant | May 19, 2021 at 2:05 a.m.
Cottage Cheese Gnudi With Brown Butter and Pesto Cream (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

This is not a diet story, despite cottage cheese's reputation for being diet food.

You'll find no lettuce leaves or canned peaches here.

You will find recipes celebrating cottage cheese for all its milky lusciousness.

Sure, it's lower in calories and higher in protein than some of its dairy case brethren and sistren, but cottage cheese's appeal, especially here, lies in its rich (but not too rich) and satisfying creaminess.

Its mild flavor and slightly acidic tang work best in savory dishes, but don't rule it out for sweets. It may be too salty for blending with strawberries (we tried), but we loved it in oat pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries.

If the curds turn you off — give it a whirl in a blender or food processor to make it smooth and creamy with a texture similar to ricotta.

Speaking of ricotta, cottage cheese can be used interchangeably for ricotta in most recipes — we love it in lasagna, manicotti and gnudi — just lightly drain it first to remove some of the excess liquid. (We should note that while they can be used similarly, cottage cheese and ricotta are very different foods. Cottage cheese is made by separating curds and whey from fresh milk. Traditional ricotta cheese is made from whey.)

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Cottage Cheese Gnudi With Brown Butter and Pesto Cream

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Fresh basil, for optional garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

While the water heats, prepare the gnudi.

Place cottage cheese in a fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with cheese cloth and press with the back of a spoon to extract some of the liquid.

In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese, flour, parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg; pulse to combine. Add the egg yolks and continue pulsing until mixture forms a ball.

Generously dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out on the floured surface and gently shape dough into a ball by lightly rolling it in the flour.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions.

Working with one portion at a time, roll out the dough to form a ½- to ¾-inch-thick rope, sprinkling with more flour if too sticky to roll. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a flour-dusted or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Gently drop the gnudi into the boiling water. Cook gnudi until all of them are floating, about 3 minutes, and then cook for 1 minute more.

While the gnudi are cooking, heat the butter in a large skillet.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnudi to the skillet and cook in the melted butter, letting the gnudi get as brown as you like. Add the pesto and heavy cream and continue cooking until sauce thickens.

Serve garnished with fresh basil, if desired.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Greek-Style Cottage Cheese Snack Bowl (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Greek-Style Cottage Cheese Snack Bowl (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Cottage cheese stands in for feta in this milder take on a Greek salad.

Greek-Style Cottage Cheese Snack Bowl

  • 2/3 cup cottage cheese
  • ½ teaspoon Greek seasoning (We used Cavender's)
  • ¼ cup chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomato
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cucumber
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme or oregano

In an individual serving bowl, combine the cottage cheese and Greek seasoning. Top with chickpeas, tomato, cucumber and herbs.

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe adapted from "Betty Crocker Snacks: Easy Ways to Satisfy Your Cravings" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)

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Cottage Cheese Alfredo

  • 1 cup milk (We used whole, but low-fat and skim work well too)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese or Romano cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or more to taste
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Dried basil, to taste
  • Dried oregano, to taste
  • Cooked pasta such as fettuccine, penne or farfalle
  • Fresh, chopped parsley or basil for garnish, optional
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, optional

In a blender or food processor, combine the milk, cottage cheese, cornstarch, garlic and parmesan and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

Pour the mixture in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until heated through and smooth. Taste again and season with more basil, oregano, salt, pepper or garlic, if desired.

Let it cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked pasta. Serve garnished with fresh parsley and nutmeg, if desired.

Serve immediately.

Makes enough for about ½ pound of pasta.

Recipe adapted from 40aprons.com

Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Cottage cheese gives scrambled eggs extra richness and a protein and calcium boost.

Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons cottage cheese
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Butter
  • Snipped chives or green onion tops, optional

In a bowl or blender, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk or blend until thoroughly combined.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat.

Add the egg mixture and let cook, undisturbed, for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a heat-safe spatula, working from the edge in, gently push cooked portion of the eggs to the center and continue until eggs are cooked to your liking.

If desired, top with chives or green onions.

Makes 2 servings.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Cottage Cheese Pancakes (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

These gluten-free pancakes are a tasty high protein, high fiber option.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

  • ½ cup old-fashioned (rolled) oats
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • Desired toppings such as maple syrup, butter and fresh berries, for serving

Place the oats, cottage cheese, eggs, baking powder and salt in a blender and process on high speed until well combined.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the batter in 2-tablespoon portions, spacing them evenly apart. Cook until the pancakes are set around the edges and golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes (you may see a few bubbles form on the surface, but these will not bubble like traditional pancakes). Gently flip the pancakes with a thin spatula and cook until the second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Repeat cooking the remaining batter. These pancakes are best when eaten fresh off the griddle and still warm. Serve with desired toppings.

Makes about 8 (3-inch) pancakes.

Not-So-Sinful Deviled Eggs (Democrat-Gazette file photo)
Not-So-Sinful Deviled Eggs (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Cottage cheese adds creamy richness to deviled eggs.

Not-So-Sinful Deviled Eggs

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons pickle relish
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Smoked paprika, to garnish
  • Fresh chives, to garnish

Peel eggs.

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Retain the egg whites. Discard half of the yolks, set the remaining yolks aside.

In a food processor combine the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and pickle relish. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mash the reserved yolks. Add the pureed dressing mixture. Stir to combine, then season with salt and black pepper. Using a pastry bag or a zip-close bag with the corner cut off, or using a spoon, refill the wells in the egg whites. Garnish the tops with a little sprinkle of smoked paprika and some chopped chives.

Makes 12 deviled eggs.

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Cottage cheese is also a delicious substitute for mayonnaise in pimento cheese.

Pimento Cheese

  • ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 ½ tablespoons diced pimentos OR diced roasted red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon any pickle juice OR pickle relish
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir vigorously with a fork until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.

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