Pesto And Cottage Cheese Make For A Creamy, Easy Pasta Sauce

Pasta with a silky, creamy sauce is a wonderful comfort food, one that arguably tastes best on cool evenings. When it's warmer outside, the idea of pasta with rich sauce clinging to it may not be as appealing for some of us. But what if you could get all the creamy goodness of a decadent pasta dish without the excessive heaviness? As a self-proclaimed pasta junke, I'd like to believe all my fusilli dreams have come true.

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As it turns out, cottage cheese makes for an incredibly simple and delicious pasta sauce, especially when you blend it with classic pesto. This often-forgotten dairy product is lighter than heavy cream or cream cheese, so it's a great option to get that creamy texture pasta lovers crave without all the decadence of richer alternatives. The quickest and easiest way to pull this summer-friendly dish off is to blend cottage cheese with store-bought pesto sauce until it's a cohesive mixture. Once combined, toss on hot pasta and mix until every noodle is coated. Of course, it's hard to beat freshly made basil pesto, and with the herb being at its prime in the summer months, it shouldn't be difficult to find.

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Why cottage cheese works in pasta

You can top any pasta with cottage cheese straight out of the container, as pictured above, but the key to using cottage cheese as an element in pasta sauce is to blend it up until it's creamy and no longer chunky. In its normal state, the cheese doesn't melt well, so blitzing it in a blender or food processor will break it down and give it a creamy (not lumpy) texture. When you blend it with pesto sauce, you're doing double duty by making it smooth and combining it with flavor.

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Because cottage cheese tastes fairly neutral, like cream cheese with a little extra tang, you're not limited to mixing it with basil pesto. Try blending it with sundried tomatoes, the best store-bought marinara sauce, or your own flavoring of choice. One idea is to toast some garlic in olive oil and then add this to cottage cheese with lemon zest, chili flakes, and a little oregano. And if you don't use the whole container, cottage cheese lasts around two weeks in the fridge.

Using cottage cheese in pasta tastes great, and the added bonus is that you'll also be getting a hefty protein boost. A half cup of whole milk cottage cheese has 13 grams of protein.

Cottage cheese is having a moment

One simply needs to look to social media to see that cottage cheese is experiencing a major comeback from its old reputation of being a dreaded "diet food" of the '80s and '90s. People are using the dairy staple to make everything from bread to cookie dough to ice cream. 

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When it comes to pasta, cottage cheese works just as well as a filling as it does a sauce. Using it as a substitute for ricotta cheese is delicious and simple: Just use a one-to-one ratio for dishes like lasagna. Baked dishes like ziti also taste excellent with cottage cheese. In the case of the two latter recipes, blending the cheese into a smooth consistency isn't necessary, but you can still do it if you like an ultra-smooth texture. In something like lasagna, which is layered with multiple other ingredients, you may not notice the chunky texture of un-blended cottage cheese too much.

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