I know, it sounds simply horrid, doesn't it? That's what I thought, too, when Thomas Keller mentioned (at Cleveland's Fabulous Food Show) it was something his mother used to make when he was a child. "It's actually a very nice dish" said Mr. Keller. Although it didn't sound particularly amazing at first, I was intrigued. If Thomas Keller says something is an easy and tasty meal, people have a tendency to listen. Besides, I frequently add ricotta to baked pasta dishes, so why should this be any different?
I basically made a basic ravioli filling, but substituted cottage cheese for the ricotta. For some reason, I had this idea that the cottage cheese would remain lumpy, but of course it didn't - it melted right into a lightly creamy sauce. This makes it a very nice alternative to actually cream sauces, which, although delicious, isn't very good for my Buddha belly. It also made a much easier cheesy sauce than a bechamel method.
There are lots of times when I am simply too tired to make something for dinner. This whips up in just a few minutes and the cottage cheese packs a good deal of protein. Besides that, it's only 4 ingredients. And it's cheap, which is something lots of us appreciate these days.
Spaghetti with Cottage Cheese Cream Sauce - serves 2
6 ounces spaghetti, cooked in salted water 1 minute less than listed on the package
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (lightly packed) Parmesan cheese (or any other hard grating cheese)
salt and pepper
Cook the spaghetti as described, and reserve a bit of the pasta water just before straining. Set the pasta aside. Combine the cottage cheese, egg yolk, and cheese together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place about 1/4 cup of the pasta water in a sauce pan and turn the heat to med-high. Bring it to a boil and reduce by almost half, then whisk in the cottage cheese mixture. Turn the heat to medium low and stir until the cottage cheese is smooth and the cheese is melted; add the pasta back to the pan. Stir and toss to coat the pasta evenly. Serve with a little extra grated cheese. This would also be good with a small splash of lemon juice added at the very end.
When adding the cottage cheese mixture, be sure to keep the heat low. If you are using an electric stove, you might want to remove your pan from heat completely; you don't want your egg yolk to scramble, just to cook to a nice smooth texture.