Curds & Whey: Cottage Cheese

Ingredient Spotlight

Is "diet food" the first thing you think of when we mention cottage cheese? Because when it comes to cooking, this particular dairy product is capable of so much more.

Cottage cheese is a fresh (as opposed to aged) cheese akin to ricotta, queso fresco, and paneer. It's made by curdling milk and draining off the majority of the whey. This results in fluffy loose curds with a mild, slightly tangy milk flavor. Cottage cheese is typically made with cow's milk, but goat's milk, sheep's milk, or any other kind could be used.

That mild flavor and soft texture make cottage cheese a boon when it comes to cooking. This cheese doesn't melt, but the curds tend to dissolve into the background when mixed into a batch of muffins or used to round out a casserole. Because cottage cheese tends to be low in fat and high in protein, as dieter's have discovered, using cottage cheese is a way to bump up the healthiness of a recipe without greatly changing its flavor or texture.

To give you some ideas for how to use cottage cheese in your cooking, take a look at these dishes:

Chickpea Casserole with Lemons, Herbs, and ShallotsAlsatian Cottage Cheese and Onion TartLighter Stuffed Pasta ShellsGraham Cracker-Crusted and Pistachio-Flecked Cheese TorteQuick Cinnamon RollsHeidi Swanson's Cottage Cheese Muffins

If you're interested in making your own cottage cheese at home, David Lebovitz has a great tutorial:

Homemade Cottage Cheese from David Lebovitz

How do you cook with cottage cheese?

Related: On Making Soft Cheeses at Home

(Image: SunnyS/Shutterstock)

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