Cottage cheese is a dairy product made by adding acid to milk to separate the curds and whey. The result is a bright white, textured, creamy cheese with a deceptively rich taste. Cottage cheese has a reputation for being one of the healthier dairy products, and in fact, it has only 1.4 grams of fat in a half-cup serving compared to 19 grams of fat in half a cup of cheddar. Unfortunately, it's developed a bad rap as being bland and undesirably lumpy.
A recent renaissance on TikTok and Instagram is turning this around, inspiring younger generations to reach for cottage cheese in ways Grandma never imagined when she served it on toast with canned pineapple. If you're not familiar with the taste, trying it in some new recipes you may not have considered may do just the trick. Here are some tips to inspire you to get more use out of this versatile but underappreciated ingredient.
Replace Cream Cheese
Many people rely on cottage cheese to replace dairy products with a higher fat content. You can use cottage cheese as a substitute for cream cheese in your recipes for a lighter dish that retains a satisfying creamy consistency. 100 grams of cottage cheese contains 103 calories and 4.51 grams of fat, whereas the same weight of cream cheese contains 349 calories and 34.87 grams of fat.
Just be careful of one thing. For uncooked dishes like purees and sauces, the substitution ratio can be 1:1. If you're planning to cook your dish, for example, if you're making a decadent cheesecake, you'll need to strain the cottage cheese first to remove its generous water content and use equal parts cottage cheese and heavy cream instead of the cottage cheese alone to achieve a rich and creamy result.
Upgrade Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki sauce is a classic Greek condiment made of yogurt, cucumber, lemon, garlic, and mint. The ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe, but yogurt is a staple. Cottage cheese and Greek yogurt have similar levels of protein, fat, and calories, so in this case, your choice to use cottage cheese to make tzatziki sauce might not be for nutritional reasons.
If you're out of Greek yogurt or want to try something new, you'll find that cottage cheese lends the tzatziki sauce a creamy consistency with a fun added texture from the chunky curds. It also gives the sauce a saltier finish with a hint of a cheesy flavor. Just use low-fat cottage cheese to avoid making the result too thick, and measure 1¾ cup of cottage cheese for every cup of Greek yogurt the recipe calls for.
Bake With Cottage Cheese
Cheesy baked goods are nothing new, from rich cheesecake made with cream cheese, calzones oozing with melted mozzarella and topped with grated Parmesan, and delicious cheesy breads and biscuits baked with anything from cheddar to Gorgonzola. For a lighter result, use cottage cheese in your favorite baked recipes while retaining a flavor and texture that will have you reaching for seconds.
Try enriching cornbread batter by adding cottage cheese to the milk. Make warm, savory cheese and vegetable scones with cottage cheese, onions, scallions, carrots, bell peppers, or whatever vegetable you like. Be creative. Add some cottage cheese to dinner rolls, quiche, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, dessert bars, or baked crescents, and discover a fun new kind of cheesy bake.
Classic Italian lasagna is famous for rich, melty mozzarella and creamy ricotta baked into the layers. Traditionalists might balk, but did you know that you can make a version of lasagna with cottage cheese as well? In this case, you'll sub cottage cheese for the ricotta in the original version. It's a way to make the dish just a little healthier since ricotta has three times the fat of cottage cheese and is also higher in cholesterol.
Cottage cheese tastes different from ricotta, but the slight difference in flavor will still be delicious. Make sure not to use low-fat cottage cheese here because you still want the result to be thick and creamy. Just be forewarned: lasagna made this way will have a different texture than that made with smooth ricotta. It will have a noticeable texture from the curds in the cottage cheese.
Use It In Place Of Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a staple in many kitchens and appreciated for it's thick, silky texture and slightly sour flavor. Cottage cheese may seem like a very different product, but you can substitute cottage cheese for Greek yogurt in most of your favorite recipes without a fuss.
From a nutritional standpoint, the two dairy products are similar. Both contain about four grams of fat, although cottage cheese is slightly higher in protein. So the main reason to make the swap is to try something new or, if you're out of Greek yogurt, to use up that carton of cottage cheese you may not have known what to do with. If you're not crazy about the chunky texture of cottage cheese, you can save it for blended recipes like smoothies and dips.
Cottage cheese is a versatile ingredient that can enrich a variety of foods with a protein boost and a salty touch. Some fans of this creamy ingredient especially appreciate it in baking. Baked quiches like quiche Lorraine or spinach quiche usually call for one or more types of cheese in the filling, along with vegetables or meat. Using cottage cheese is a fun way to add new flavor and texture to this popular dish.
Add the cottage cheese alone or in combination with other cheeses you love. It doesn't matter if you use full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese, but the higher-fat version will be richer and creamier. Once it's baked, the taste of the cottage cheese isn't very noticeable, but it enhances the texture in a unique way that's worth trying.
While mayo's taste and creamy smoothness is a favorite, you can swap cottage cheese for mayo and still make a satisfying sandwich. Considering mayo has 4.91 grams of fat in one tablespoon, some people may appreciate a lighter alternative. You'll also give your dish a boost of nutrition, with a half-cup serving providing 14 grams of protein.
Cottage cheese works great in salad sandwiches like tuna salad, chicken salad, or a plant-based chickpea salad. You don't have to do any special calculations for this swap. Just mix in cottage cheese to taste until your salad reaches the level of creaminess you like. You can also use cottage cheese in sauces and dips that call for mayonnaise to lighten them up. Just blend them to get closer to the smoothness of mayo.
Make Cottage Cheese Queso
Queso — meaning cheese in Spanish — is a popular Tex-Mex dip usually made from Velveeta, cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese mixed with green chile peppers and canned tomatoes. Unless you're a stickler for the classic version, a melted cheese dish like this one is a good opportunity to try enhancing the flavor with new types of cheeses in the mix, so it may come as no surprise that you can add cottage cheese to elevate your queso.
Cottage cheese has a mild taste that won't overwhelm the dip and plays well with other cheeses. The understated flavor also makes it a good base for stronger mix-ins that many recipes include, like fresh herbs, garlic, or taco seasoning. To mimic a classic, smooth queso, run it through the blender to smooth out the chunky curds.
Use It Instead Of Sour Cream
Sour cream is a smooth, thick, creamy, slightly tangy dairy product made from fermented cream. It has roots in ancient Mongolian cooking and gradually became used worldwide. From tangy sauces and creamy desserts to nacho dips and sandwich spreads, there is no shortage of recipes featuring this versatile ingredient.
Whether you're out of sour cream or looking for ways to use leftover cottage cheese, you'll find that you can sub cottage cheese for sour cream with good results. Use a 1:1 ratio for the replacement. First, whip or blend cottage cheese to smooth out the curds. Then, follow this simple hack to get closer to the consistency and tangy taste of sour cream. Just mix in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a quarter cup of regular yogurt, and you're good to go.
Replace Regular Yogurt With Creamed Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese may not seem like a suitable substitute for yogurt because yogurt is thinner and silky smooth. But the truth is you can substitute creamed cottage cheese for yogurt in many of your favorite recipes. The secret is to cream it first to make it smooth and fluffy. Just place cottage cheese with honey to taste in a food processor and process it for about a minute on high. Repeat this, using a spatula to scrape the sides of the cup until it's as smooth as you like.
This method removes the textural barrier that prevents many people from trying cottage cheese. Once those lumps are gone, and with the magic sweetness from a little honey, it's easy to focus on the distraction-free flavor.
Sub Cottage Cheese For Ricotta
Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from the whey that's leftover after making cheese. It gets cooked twice, the second time with whole milk and vinegar to make it curdle (in fact, ricotta means recooked in Italian). Cottage cheese contains milk curds and some liquid whey, so the two cheeses have some similarities.
Ricotta is used in a multitude of recipes, and cottage cheese makes a good ricotta substitute in many of them. Spread it on toasted bread topped with tomatoes or roasted peppers, or for a sweet option, berries or sliced fruit and cinnamon. Bake it in lasagna, ravioli, and calzone, or in pound cake or cheesecake for dessert. Try it in spinach dip, whipped and served with grilled peaches or pears, or blended into salad dressings for thickness.
Make A Nutrient-Rich Snack
Including nutrient-packed cottage cheese in your diet is a great way to add more protein and vitamins to your daily snacks. A half-cup serving of regular (full-fat) cottage cheese only has 115 calories and 5 grams of fat. However, it packs in 13 grams of protein, 8 percent of the calcium, 14 percent of the phosphorous, and a third of the vitamin B12 needed in one day. Just keep an eye out if you're watching your sodium intake. A half-cup serving contains 300-400 milligrams.
There are many savory and sweet ideas for tasty cottage cheese snacks, ranging from simply eating it with a spoon to making delicious sous vide cottage cheese egg bites. The simplest way is to place it in a bowl and top with avocado, fruit, granola, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, jam or honey, or many of your favorite oatmeal or salad toppings.
Use It To Make Smoothies
A smoothie base is the liquid that is added to the blender along with the fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients. Yogurt is a very popular smoothie base, and it helps it become thick and creamy. However, many different bases can be used, each lending a unique flavor and texture to the final result. People may reach for other bases like almond milk, coconut milk, and fruit juice if they prefer not to use yogurt, but a delicious yogurt substitute for your next smoothie that you may not have considered is cottage cheese.
When blended, cottage cheese turns thick, creamy, and smooth – just perfect for a satisfying smoothie. It's also a good choice if you're avoiding flavored yogurts because you're watching your sugar intake. It's low in natural sugars and doesn't have any added.
Sub For Mascarpone
Mascarpone is a spreadable Italian cheese originating from the region of Lombardy. It's rich and creamy and made from milk, cream, and citric acid, which eventually replaced the lemon juice that was traditionally used and which gives it a slightly sour taste. You may know this cheese as one of the star ingredients in the ever-popular tiramisù.
If you're out of this unique cheese or want to try something new, you can sub cottage cheese for mascarpone in your favorite creamy recipes. You'll want to blend it first, perhaps with a little water if you find it's too thick, to smooth out the lumpy curds. This solution is ideal if you're going for a lighter result. Whereas mascarpone has 14 grams of fat in a one-ounce serving, cottage cheese only has 1.27 grams in the same-sized portion.
Top Toasted Bread
Whether it's for breakfast, appetizers, or just a tasty snack, warm toasted bread topped with delicious creamy ingredients like butter, mashed avocado, or ricotta cheese is sure to please. Another creamy option to spread on your toast is cottage cheese, which not only gives you a creamy base but a unique savory flavor as well.
There's no limit to satisfying pairings here. For savory toast, try cottage cheese with tomato and basil, thinly sliced cucumber and mint, smoked salmon, or a fried egg. For a naturally sweet treat, top it with blueberries, sliced peaches, or bananas. Anything you would put on oatmeal would work here for a breakfast version. Turn it into a dessert by adding granulated sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
Make A Savory Spread
Go the extra mile by mixing cottage cheese with other ingredients to create delicious creamy spreads and dips like creamy spinach dip or cheesecake fruit dip. Cottage cheese becomes smooth when blended, and its naturally thick consistency is perfect for this kind of condiment. Use it to replace ricotta cheese, sour cream, yogurt, or other similar dip bases. Another option is to use cottage cheese to only replace half of a heavier base like mayonnaise in order to lighten up the dish.
For a simple spread, try adding chopped fresh herbs to cottage cheese for extra flavor. Chives are a good match, along with mint, parsley, basil, thyme, dill, and or any other herbs you enjoy. Add minced garlic or shallots for an aromatic boost, or dried garlic powder or onion powder. Enjoy this fresh and creamy dish with crusty bread, crackers, vegetables, or tortilla chips.
Thicken Salad Dressing
Minimalistic salad dressings add a light touch to summer salads or delicate vegetables, but sometimes, a heartier, thicker salad dressing is appreciated. You can thicken salad dressing with an emulsifier like egg yolk or mustard or a thickener like cornstarch. Adding chia seeds or hummus can be a fun way to do this as well. There are many options, but one thing you may have yet to think of is to add cottage cheese.
In addition to adding creaminess and thickening the dressing, cottage cheese will provide a salty and savory flavor boost and will pump up the protein levels of your dish. If you use it to dress leafy greens and vegetables, then it's an easy way to turn your salad into a more complete meal.
Make Protein Pancakes
You can make simple three-ingredient pancakes in no time using only cottage cheese, oats, and eggs. Not only are they quick and easy, but they will provide a generous amount of protein to start your day. If you want to get a little fancier, you can add salt, baking powder, vanilla, and a little honey to add a more complex flavor.
Just pulse the oats a few times in a food processor first before whisking all the ingredients together. Pour ¼ cup amounts of batter onto a hot, greased griddle and cook the pancakes the same way as traditional ones. If you don't have a blender or food processor or enjoy a more rustic dish, you can leave the rolled oats whole and just mix them into the batter with a fork.
Enhance Your Breakfast
Cottage cheese can wear many hats, and one way we see surprising versatility is in breakfast recipes. The simplest way to enjoy this creamy, salty dairy product is to simply top it with some jam or fresh fruit and eat it with a spoon. You can add nuts, seeds, cinnamon, or other spices, or anything you would enjoy on cereal or oatmeal.
To take it up a notch, make a protein-rich waffle batter by adding cottage cheese to the other ingredients. Enhance French toast by topping it with a mixture of cottage cheese and a sweetener like maple syrup or honey. If you want to go all out, make a banana split for breakfast by scooping cottage cheese on top instead of ice cream and topping with your favorite fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, and natural sweetener.
Make A Casserole
Casseroles are one-pan baked meals made in a sturdy, deep dish called a casserole or a casserole dish or pan. From a classic chicken casserole or green bean casserole to more unique ideas like a breakfast croissant casserole or cheesy funeral potatoes, what these beloved comfort foods have in common is warmth, creaminess, and richness, besides being easy to make.
Cheese is often included for melty goodness along with other ingredients like meat and vegetables. Consider using cottage cheese in your next casserole to replace one or all of the cheeses the recipe calls for. Pair cottage cheese with shredded cheddar and broccoli for a broccoli casserole, or add it to baked macaroni and cheese to make it extra decadent. You won't taste its characteristic flavor once it's cooked, and you can blend it first if you're concerned about the texture.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.