Recipe Review

The New York Times Taught Me a Smart Way to Use Cottage Cheese

published Jun 23, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

As a proud member of the Cottage Cheese Hive, I often feel like it’s my duty to spread the good word of this often-misunderstood dairy product. So when I saw that the New York Times posted a recipe for cottage cheese pasta with tomatoes, scallions, and currants on their Instagram, I knew I had to try it out. I usually enjoy my cottage cheese with a drizzle of honey, some granola, and flaky salt, or I’ll smear it onto some avocado toast. I have never tossed it into pasta, so I was dying to see how it held up. Here’s how it all went down.

Get the recipe: Cottage Cheese Pasta With Tomatoes, Scallions and Currants from the New York Times

How to Make Cottage Cheese Pasta

The ingredient list for this pasta dish is probably a tough sell for some people. Currants? Cottage cheese? Mint? Ground cinnamon? What is happening here? Despite the eccentric ingredient rundown, the recipe itself is quite straightforward. First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Ladle some of that boiling water over your currants in a small bowl and let them soak for about 10 minutes before draining them.

With that same boiling water, go ahead and salt it heavily, then cook 1 pound of any short pasta shape (like fusilli or cavatelli) to al dente. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, toss halved cherry tomatoes, sliced scallions, freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, and the soaked currants. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve some pasta water, then drain. Toss the pasta into the tomato mixture with 1 cup of cottage cheese, using the reserved pasta water to make a glossy sauce. Season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh mint and parsley, plus a pinch of ground cinnamon. 

Edit note: We recognize that the recipe is behind a paywall. If you want to make a different cottage cheese pasta, try using this recipe!

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review of Cottage Cheese Pasta

This pasta was so good. Even though I am a proud consumer of cottage cheese, I was still a bit skeptical that the chilled, curdled cheese would work in a hot pasta dish. Folks, it not only worked, but it was also really tasty. The cottage cheese added a ton of creaminess throughout the dish and I didn’t feel like it needed any extra cheese or butter. I also really appreciated that it all came together in one bowl. This could easily be a go-to weeknight dinner.

I also didn’t think this dish had an overwhelmingly cottage cheese flavor. It was more so a delicate balance of creaminess and acidity with some curds sprinkled in there. Sure, you could sub ricotta. But what fun is that? Curd’s the word, people. You heard it here first.

The tomatoes, scallions, and fresh lemon juice brightened the whole dish up, while the dried fruit (I subbed raisins) added a subtle note of sweetness. If you’re trying to convince someone that cottage cheese is their friend and not their foe, this recipe could be a great starting place for someone to dip their toe into the magical, lumpy world that is cottage cheese. 

The flavors of this dish are very reminiscent of kugel, which is a sweet, buttered Jewish egg noodle dish. Melissa Clark, the author of the recipe, notes that this recipe is a spin on her grandmother’s kugel. I am no stranger to a slightly sweet pasta dish (shout out to Aunt Lisa every year at Hanukkah), but I know that for some, this could be a foreign concept. If the idea of adding currants or any dried fruit to your pasta isn’t for you, you can always skip it.

Credit: Sara Tane

2 Tips for Making Cottage Cheese Pasta

  1. Use whole-milk cottage cheese. The recipe specifies to use full-fat for a reason. If you use a reduced-fat version, your dish will be significantly less creamy. Womp womp.
  2. Eat it right away. There are some pasta dishes, in my opinion, that just don’t reheat like they should. This is one of them. Don’t plan to have leftovers when you make it because it’s definitely most enjoyable when served immediately. If you are going to eat it later on, I would recommend eating it chilled.

Have you tried making pasta with cottage cheese? Share your thoughts in the comments!