For some, cottage cheese is the ultimate comfort food. It’s soft and creamy, is wonderful with berries or fresh peaches, offers calcium and has relatively little fat, and can take the heat as well. Sweet and savory breads baked with cottage cheese don’t last long on the cutting board due to their rich taste and moist texture. Baking with cottage cheese instead of sour cream, ricotta, or heavy cream in entrees like lasagna, pot pies, and savory meat and vegetable bakes adds taste and nutrients too. Choosing the right type of cottage cheese for a particular recipe is important, and when using substitutions, it’s important to note quantities.
The clever cook needs to determine if baking with dry or creamy cottage cheese is the best choice for a particular recipe or cooking method. Creamy cottage cheese moistens breads and other bakery delights, while dry cottage cheese has no additional milk and is less likely to separate or curdle under high heat, making it a better choice for foods that will be cooked at higher temperatures. Dry cottage cheese might be a bit less available, but many health food stores carry it, or rinsing creamy cottage cheese in a strainer will leave dry curds.
Nearly any casserole recipe that features sour cream, mayonnaise, heavy cream, or condensed soup will benefit from baking with cottage cheese. A simple chicken, black bean, and brown rice casserole holds together nicely with cottage cheese, an egg, and just a little shredded cheese. Stuffed bell peppers can be created in no time using creamy cottage cheese, sautéed onion, a little rice, and whatever veggies the cook has on hand.
Almost everyone loves cheesecake, but few folks love the heart-stopping fat a single slice contains. Thanks to cottage cheese, this sinfully delicious dessert becomes downright angelic. Unlike dense, cream cheese and sour cream-based cheesecakes, a cheesecake made by baking with cottage cheese and low-fat yogurt, a little sugar, eggs, and just a smidgen of flour is a light-as-air confection. Adding raspberries, strawberries, or other fruit to the batter makes it sing.
Cooks looking to trim the fat from rich cream sauces or creamy desserts find that equivalent amounts of low-fat yogurt and creamy cottage cheese do the trick. Recipes that call for cream cheese generally accept the same amount of dry cottage cheese plus a little margarine and perhaps a splash of low-fat milk if the results seem too dry. Recipes for baking with cottage cheese are easy to find via the Internet, but creative cooks will soon find themselves creating their own signature dishes using this versatile food.