It’s time for a cottage cheese revival! It seems unfair to merely treat cottage cheese as ricotta’s unsophisticated cousin. After all, cottage cheese is made from a combination of curds and whey (of Little Miss Muffet fame) when ricotta is made from just the whey. They’re really kissing cousins.
Cottage cheese’s bad rap has a lot to do with the age of Jell-O salads, aka my childhood, when cottage cheese was a diet food served on a soggy piece of iceberg lettuce with canned fruit cocktail. I admit to actually having fond memories of this dish. I hated the taste of raw dairy and this was one of the few ways I would eat it. I’m not not sure the cottage cheese was the attraction for me though. I actually adored the fluorescent maraschino cherries, whole peeled grapes and uber-sweet syrup in the fruit cocktail.
My Lemony Cucumber Herb Cottage Cheese Bowl bears no resemblance to the cottage cheese salads of my youth. I use Breakstones small curd cottage cheese because it it is one of my many comfort foods – you can use your favorite brand and curd size.
If you’re ambitious, try David Lebovitz’s recipe for Homemade Cottage Cheese. I haven’t tried it yet because I need to take the time to track down a fairly hard to find ingredient called rennet. His recipe looks fairly easy and is similar to making ricotta which is I make often enough to keep cheesecloth on hand. Ricotta is made using vinegar or lemon juice instead of rennet which makes it easier to make any night of the week.
Since it is a fresh cheese, cottage cheese pairs particularly well with the cucumber salad for a small yet satisfying snack, a light lunch, or a break from my morning routine of yogurt and fruit bowls. I make a cucumber salad in particular because I eat cucumbers just about every day from summer through fall when they are in season…I just can’t resist buying them every time go to the farmers market!
Arugula is omnipresent in my recipes because it is on hand year round in my yard. I’ve mentioned this before, but can’t do justice to just how much arugula has self seeded in my gardens. Just imagine the weeds in your lawn being arugula instead of dandelions…
The following is my go-to recipe for Lemony Cucumber Herb Cottage Cheese Bowl. As a bonus, it’s still a naturally healthy way to skip a few calories here and there. At the end of the recipe, I’ve included a few flavor options to tailor the recipe to your taste.
Lemony Herb Cucumber Cottage Cheese Bowl
(Makes two generous servings)
1 cup peeled, seeded and 1/4″ diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced Georgia Vidalia onion or other sweet onion
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Few grinds pepper
1 Tbs minced parsley
1 Tbs minced chive
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbs your favorite extra virgin olive oil
Dash of Tabasco
pinch of sugar
1 cup your favorite cottage cheese
2 cups arugula
- In a medium bowl mix together all ingredients except cottage cheese
- Put arugula in bowl, add cottage cheese and pour cucumber mixture over. Mixing together is optional. I like the contrast between the milky fresh cottage cheese, bright flavored cucumbers, and peppery arugula so I don’t mix mine together.
- Omit Georgia Vidalia onions and substitute scallions or red onions
- Omit parsley and substitute 2 Tbs total of minced herbs. My favorite combinations are:
-dill + mint
-basil + chives
-parsley + chives + tarragon + chervil (if you can find it!)
- Substitute sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar for red wine vinegar
- If you make fresh ricotta, substitute the ricotta for the cottage cheese and make Cucumber Herb Ricotta Cheese. If you do this, place arugula on crackers and cover with cheese or just omit the arugula and serve on crackers.