For Smooth Cooking, Try Cottage Cheese

Posted: April 10, 1991

One good-for-you food in desperate need of an image update is cottage cheese, generally perceived as the lunch of elderly widows on a special diet. Of course, there are lots of good reasons why cottage cheese is the ideal light lunch for women of all ages: it's rich in low-fat calcium and lean protein for starters. It has much more substance than yogurt, and it generally doesn't come packed with lots of sugar the way most brands of yogurt do. Cottage cheese needs a media makeover of the sort that separated raisins from prunes!

Like yogurt, cottage cheese is exceeding versatile as an ingredient in low- calorie cooking, in every course from appetizer to dessert. For starters, try cottage cheese processed smooth as sour cream to serve as a substitute wherever the high-calorie ingredient is called for. Try this spooned on top of a baked potato, garnished with minced chives or parsley. Or stir it into meal- size soups or use in place of sour cream with enchiladas.

COTTAGE 'SOUR CREAM'

16-ounce container low-fat tangy (sour) cottage cheese

Salt (or butter-flavored salt) to taste

Empty the container into a blender or food processor (using the steel blade). Cover and process until completely smooth - until all graininess disappears and the mixture has the consistency of thick sour cream. Scrape down the sides of the container frequently. Add salt, or butter-flavored salt, to taste, only after tasting (some brands of cottage cheese are salt-free, while others are heavily salted). Makes 1 2/3 cups, 15 calories per tablespoon (regular sour cream is 25 calories per tablespoon).

HUNGARIAN-STYLE SOUR CREAMY NOODLES

1 cup Cottage "Sour Cream" (recipe above )

3 cups hot cooked drained noodles

Minced onion, garlic, parsley, to taste

Paprika

After draining the noodles, return them to the pot they were cooked in. Add the onion, garlic and parsley to the Cottage "Sour Cream"; stir with a fork into noodles until noodles are well blended. (Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.) Sprinkle with paprika before serving. Makes 4 servings, 210 calories each.

SLIM STROGANOFF CASSEROLE

2 cups lean cooked diced meat or poultry

1 1/2 cups cooked curly egg noodles

1 cup each: low-fat cottage cheese, plain skim milk yogurt

1/2 onion, minced

1/4 cup chopped red (or green) bell pepper

2-ounce can mushroom pieces, drained

8 stuffed Spanish olives, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon each: lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Optional: pinch of red pepper (or dash of Tabasco sauce)

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients, except bread crumbs; stir lightly. Spoon into an oven-proof casserole. Sprinkle with crumbs and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings, 225 calories each.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE PIE

6-ounce can orange juice concentrate

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/4 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons plain cocoa

1 teaspoon cornstarch

5 tablespoons granulated fruit sugar (or honey)

2 eggs (or 1/2 cup thawed low cholesterol substitute)

Ready-to-fill graham cracker (or chocolate) pieshell

Defrost orange concentrate, but do not dilute. Pour it into a blender or food processor (using the steel blade). Add the cottage cheese, milk and vanilla. Process until cottage cheese is completely smooth. Add cocoa, cornstarch and fruit sugar; blend smooth. Add eggs and blend with on-off motions just until smooth; pour into pieshell. Place in a cold oven. Set temperature at 300 degrees. Bake undisturbed for 70 minutes. Turn off oven. Leave pie in the oven, with the door slightly ajar, for another hour, or until cool. Transfer pie to the refrigerator and chill thoroughly. Makes 10 servings, 165 calories each.

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