I love cottage cheese. Help me love it more and better.
January 14, 2013 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Cottage cheese is my favorite. How can I eat it cheaply? Healthfully? And best?

Cottage cheese is pretty much the best food in the world. If I open my fridge, and there's a container of cottage cheese in it, that's what I'm eating. This isn't that financially viable — heaven doesn't come cheap — and it's perhaps nutritionally questionable to consider an ideal meal sesame-seed was a crackers dipped in cottage cheese. So my question is multifaceted:
1. What are the best ways to make cottage cheese cheaper and more healthful? (Is making my own worth it?) I already only buy the fat-free kind.
2. Are there amazing high-end cottage cheese out there I could treat myself to?
3. What are some cottage cheese delights I have never even considered?

My one restriction: Please don't say fruit. Fruit in cottage cheese grosses me out. Otherwise, bring unto me all your cottage cheese knowledge and know-how.
posted by Charity Garfein to Food & Drink (47 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
Cook some macaroni. Put some butter in the macaroni. Put 1 cup of cottage cheese on the buttered macaroni. Add milk. Eat. (There are much fancier versions of this out here, but this has been go-to comfort food in my family for, oh, four generations...)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

Ethiopian restaurants serve a fine curd version with some of their dishes.

Not healthy, but I like to mix it with ketchup or Lawrys vintage dressing.

Nthing noodles and pot cheese.
posted by brujita at 7:15 PM on January 14, 2013

My understanding is that sodium is where cottage cheese has some of the most fail, nutritionally. I've occasionally seen and eaten no salt added cottage cheese, but it's just not the same -- when I buy it, I end up adding a little back in.

Definitely try all kinds of dry spices -- even just black pepper is great. Adding liquid (like hot sauce) can be tricky, but is possible if you go slow. Sometimes draining it off a little helps, depending on the brand.

Also: Instant pudding powder. That's all I'm going to say.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:17 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I add cottage cheese kind of randomly to baked goods like cupcakes and brownies. Just fold it in really loosely at the very end of the mix.

Admittedly it is not particularly healthy in this manner.
posted by elizardbits at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2013

1. Making your own is personally rewarding and relatively easy, if a bit time consuming, with the bonus that you'll be able to use as much or as little salt and other seasonings as you want.
2. Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville, IN makes artisanal cottage cheese. Here are some retail locations where you can buy it.
3. Cottage cheese with Sriracha. Cottage cheese crepes with honey.

Also, if you rinse cottage cheese, you have cheese curds, which are used in all sorts of recipes.
posted by smoq at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2013

Blenderize it with some salsa. Dip veggies in it.
posted by burntflowers at 7:19 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Salsa, definitely. I stir in 1 part salsa to 3 parts cottage cheese. Better yet: pico de gallo.
posted by Snerd at 7:20 PM on January 14, 2013

Cottage cheese is delicious with green olives. Also, toasted on toast with jam (might be a violation of the fruit rule, and if so just replace with the olives!)
posted by fermezporte at 7:26 PM on January 14, 2013

If you like sesame seeds, toasted flax seeds are also great with cottage cheese. I also recommend powdered chile--my favorite is black chile available in most supermarkets.

You might also consider different types of breads and crackers to vary the taste.
posted by effluvia at 7:30 PM on January 14, 2013

Do tomatoes count as fruit for your purposes? I like stewed tomatoes with cottage cheese. Maybe sprinkle a little dill on there, too.
posted by dorey_oh at 7:33 PM on January 14, 2013

I make pancakes with cottage cheese in the batter. Just watch out, because those melted curds will burn the hell out of the roof of your mouth. But they're delicious.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:39 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ok bear with me. Seriously. Give it one try at least. I swear to god.

Cottage Cheese + Soy Sauce

I kid you not.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:49 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ooh, ooh here's my favorite: freshly ground black pepper, a touch of nutmeg, diced tomatoes and a teeny bit of balsamic vinegar. Any combination of those flavors is also delicious, in particular just a good dose of really good black pepper. In my personal practice, I actually prefer a bit of dairy fat in my cottage cheese, partly for flavor, but also because it increases satiety, meaning I eat less.
posted by Polyhymnia at 7:54 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cottage cheese and diced tomato, cucumber, and avocado.
Cottage cheese and leftover seasoned ground beef. Optional: salsa.
Cottage cheese and greek yogurt (roughly half and half), some honey, and vanilla. Maybe some raisins and nuts as well.
I hope this helps!
posted by wats at 7:54 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love sprinkling fresh dill, chia seeds, or chopped scallions in my cottage cheese. Nothing sweet, only savory.

(Have you ever been to Israel? It is the land of cottage cheese, not the land of milk & honey as you may have heard. Israelis love their cottage cheese like no one else on this earth.)
posted by juniperesque at 7:59 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

I just made a yummy salad using cottage cheese as the dressing.

It was cooked chicken breast shredded, spring onions, celery, dill all mixed with cottage cheese and a squeeze of lemon. Then served on a bed of lettuce.

It was really scrummy.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:05 PM on January 14, 2013

The best cottage cheese I've ever had is made by a dairy in Iowa: Anderson Erickson Old Fashioned Cottage Cheese. It is so much better than any other cottage cheese I've ever had. The unfortunate thing is that it used to taste even better when it was hand packed in waxed containers at the dairy. Now it is packed in plastic containers by machine.

If you're ever in Iowa (or at a Hy-Vee grocery store or Casey's gas station near Iowa) you should be able to get some.
posted by achmorrison at 8:05 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, cottage cheese and soy sauce is one of the best things ever. You don't need a lot.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:20 PM on January 14, 2013

mix it into chili

put it on top of waffles & top with strawberry jam or cinnamon & sugar
posted by belladonna at 8:21 PM on January 14, 2013

Are there amazing high-end cottage cheese out there I could treat myself to?

In Israel they sell little (about 1.5 cup?) containers of 9% fat cottage cheese. You have not been to cottage cheese heaven until you have eaten this with a spoon.

What are some cottage cheese delights I have never even considered?

My favorite breakfast is [whatever sturdy bread product] + cottage cheese + either honey or a drippy and delicious jam drizzled on top, preferably apricot or strawberry.


Well, if you don't have high blood pressure, then you don't need to worry about the salt in it, and it's fat free protein with lots of calcium, so go nuts. If you're watching salt, I'm sorry, because salt free cottage cheese tastes Satanic. If you want healthy, dice up an Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, green onion in small dice) and serve mixed with or next to the cottage cheese. Fresh-tasting and delicious.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:23 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh and since you are in Brooklyn I would bet anything there are Israeli import shops carrying that 9% cottage cheese. I can even get it here in California.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:24 PM on January 14, 2013

Large curd cottage cheese with smoked paprika. Large curd with Mapuche Spice (smoked "goat's horn" chili from Chile). Large curd cottage cheese with artichoke hearts.

I had a friend from the Deep South who loved small curd with a little good molasses atop.

Large curd cottage cheese on a baked potato is heaven, especially with a little butter, Mapuche spice and a wee bit of lemon juice and a weensy bit of liquid smoke mixed together and put on the spud before the cottage cheese goes on.

Home made cottage cheese is outstanding and Alton Brown's quick recipe is easy and pretty good. Best of all, you can control the amount of salt.

The best commercial cottage cheese I have ever had is Danish hytte ret or "hut cheese" that I used to buy in Irma stores (in Copenhagen). Second best is Spokane, WA grocery store chain Rosauer's house brand.
posted by bz at 9:19 PM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Ooh, fingersandtoes, I am going to HAVE to find and try the Israeli 9% stuff.
posted by bz at 9:23 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scoop it up with tortilla chips. I've only had it with mass-produced chips like Tostitos, but their saltiness makes it so tasty.

I love meeting other people who love cottage cheese. I feel like it's such a polarizing food.
posted by dithmer at 9:25 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

it's perhaps nutritionally questionable to consider an ideal meal sesame-seed wasa crackers dipped in cottage cheese

It's a little light on the vegetables to eat for every single meal every single day, but this is actually a really healthy meal or snack, especially with lowfat (2%) cottage cheese. Protein, some fat, and whole-grain carbohydrates - plus some calcium. Eat away!

Okay, I just reread your question and see that you buy the nonfat kind; if you prefer nonfat, I would say that to make your snack a bit healthier/more satiating, you could eat some nuts on the side, or drizzle olive oil over. Eating fat at every meal & snack will help keep you full longer, and helps certain vitamins to absorb.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:29 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cottage cheese, thinly sliced radishes, chives and scallions with a dash of salt and white pepper was one of my favorite things growing up. Nowadays the radishes give me heartburn so I'll just omit the radishes, or even just add salt and pepper.

(I agree about the fruit combo, too. I hate seeing perfectly good cantaloupe and cottage ruined by putting them together.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Top with thinly slices of granny smith apples. Mmm.
posted by rhythm and booze at 10:10 PM on January 14, 2013

crispy bacon crumbled on top. TRUST ME. it's great.
posted by makonan at 10:49 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cottage cheese mixed with mushed up avocado. I started feeding it to my daughter when she was getting on to solids and quickly realized that I loved it. It's a great combination of protein and healthy fats.
posted by kitcat at 10:57 PM on January 14, 2013

Bake some potatoes in the oven or microwave.
Slice off the tops, scoop out the insides and mash with cottage cheese and salt/pepper.
Spoon filling back into potatoes, top with grated cheese and bake for another 10 mins or until cheese melted.
posted by pink_gorilla at 11:22 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

a little bit of cocoa powder
posted by saraindc at 11:50 PM on January 14, 2013

Top Ritz crackers with cottage cheese and Lawry's seasoned salt. Classy!
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:57 PM on January 14, 2013

Topped with Franks Red Hot in a heap next to my nachos with beans thank you.
posted by bricksNmortar at 3:05 AM on January 15, 2013

My mother replaces the ricotta in her lasagna with cottage cheese. She splits the difference between the super rich 4% and fat-free cottage cheeses. She also regularly dices and adds onion and and a dash of pepper to cottage cheese.
posted by xyzzy at 3:58 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I see you live in a place where it might not be that easy to get to Costco, but if your love of cottage cheese is as great as you say, it might be worth ZipCar-ing or whatever you have to do to make it happen. Costco sells these enormous tubs of cottage cheese (roughly 10 times the size of what you'd get in the grocery store) for like $4 or $5. I pretty much can't buy cottage cheese anywhere else because I see the cost and have a heart attack about how expensive it is.
posted by iminurmefi at 6:31 AM on January 15, 2013

- cottage cheese + nutritional yeast, chile flake, and black (unhulled) sesame seeds, eaten on crackers or a handful of baby spinach
- nthing replacing ricotta with cottage cheese in your baked pasta goods - it gets deliciously melty and drippy unlike ricotta
posted by par court at 7:07 AM on January 15, 2013

I agree with all the salty addition suggestions -- I used to love it with tamari rice crackers (eaten like a dip), or sprinkled with bacon bits (!). Also, on top of rye bread toast, for a filling meal. Not sure any of these address your goals, but they're tasty variants! You might alo try mixing in chopped up tomatoes and cucumbers with a little salad dressing on top for a more complete meal (and an approximation of Greek salad) -- I also actually frequently mix a little cottage cheese into salad dressings for regular lettuce salad, as that bulks up the salad a bit and brings a healthy sort of tastiness.

But really, I can't imagine eating nonfat regularly -- the low-fat is so much tastier and more satisfying. The dangers of fat are much over-sold (mostly by the sugar industry; imagine!)...
posted by acm at 7:40 AM on January 15, 2013

Mustard! I put black pepper and mustard (dijon, yellow, whatevs) in cottage cheese and eat it with crackers. Yum.
posted by hungrybruno at 8:51 AM on January 15, 2013

I love cottage cheese with copious amounts of cinnamon and a packet of truvia stevia (or sugar if you aren't low carb).

Similarly, I also really like this baked mock rice pudding recipe, using cottage cheese. Even better cold!

Do you add cottage cheese to salads? Canned tuna + cottage cheese + tahini + sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper is DIVINE (over lettuce/whatever salad stuff you want).
posted by Acer_saccharum at 9:15 AM on January 15, 2013

One of our favorite non-meat dinners is this:

A pound of pasta shells (small or medium) cooked as directed. Drain, then stir in 4 small cans of tomato sauce, a pound of cottage cheese and a pound of mozzarella. Stir in a bunch of garlic powder and italian seasoning to taste. Heat just a little on the stovetop to melt everything.
posted by CathyG at 9:29 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's a recipe in one of the Moosewood cookbooks for a cottage cheese sauce for pasta. It looks disgusting, especially if you make it in an iron skillet and it turns grey, but I remember loving it.

It was something like this: saute onion, garlic, and artichoke hearts in olive oil (I'd do the onions first). Mix in cottage cheese and pepper. Maybe some sour cream? Dump the sauce on cooked noodles of your choice (I wouldn't use anything too thin). Parmesan is probably involved. Maybe some parsley would help with the appearance.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2013

One of my go-to breakfasts at my desk is roasted roma tomatoes (which I do in the toaster oven) and quite a bit of good olive oil mixed with cottage cheese and lots of black pepper. Fresh basil too, if I have it around. Eat alone, or with Triscuits! Triscuits and cottage cheese have a natural affinity for one another.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:42 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

We like it with Mrs Dash seasoning and also with Lawry's season salt. I also use it in the twice baked potato recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook.
posted by jvilter at 1:26 PM on January 15, 2013

Cottage cheese with REALLY spicy curry is the food of the gods. Hot, spicy veggie curry, jasmine rice and cold, creamy cottage cheese. It is what they serve in heaven, or it isn't heaven.
posted by biscotti at 6:33 PM on January 15, 2013

My favorite salad: Spinach leaves, either baby spinach in a bag, or a bunch of spinach that you've washed well; 1 peeled, seeded cut-up cucumber; scoop of cottage cheese (I like small curd full-fat myself); ranch dressing to taste; and cut up strawberries (optional). Toss in a big bowl to combine and serve. Feel free to add chunks of other salad stuff you like, but these are the bare bones of a great salad.
posted by marsha56 at 8:47 PM on January 15, 2013

Oh god, I am so excited to try all of these. And to eat my self stupid with my surprisingly perfectly healthy favorite food. Keep the suggestions coming! This is the best to-do list in the world.
posted by Charity Garfein at 10:28 PM on January 15, 2013

Apparently I'm the only person checking in to this question from southwestern Pennsylvania, where it is common for cottage cheese to live on salad bars and the like right next to the apple butter.

Combine the two to taste (I prefer about a 3-1 cottage cheese to apple butter ratio) and you have made what I've always known as "smear case".
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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