Right this very moment, someone you know is probably eating cottage cheese, because the internet, in its mysterious ways of operating, has decided that cottage cheese is cool again. Or was it ever cool? That doesn’t matter to me. I’ve always preferred a savory breakfast over a sweet one, so my love for cottage cheese lives in a salty universe, surrounded by olive oil and diced veggies and jammy eggs and fun spices to sprinkle on top of it all.
Cottage cheese, like many cheeses, is a chameleon between the sweet and savory realms. It’s creamy, spoonable, and tasty simply in a bowl with fresh fruit or swirled with fruit jam or syrup. It can be folded into pancake batter, baked into cakes and muffins, blended into puddings and smoothies—honestly, the list of uses is long and full of surprises!
Recently, though, cottage cheese has forayed into snack territory and—dare I say—aperitivo territory, as a much more affordable and widely accessible stand-in for the glorious Italian cheese: burrata.
My New Favorite Way to Eat Cottage Cheese
Whether you prefer large curd or small curd cottage cheese, both are reminiscent of stracciatella, the luscious center of a ball of burrata. I love to drizzle a bowlful of cottage cheese with good quality olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and some flaky salt.
Good olive oil makes all the difference here—there is an inherent boldness in simplicity, so you need fresh and flavorful ingredients to back you up. Alongside some roasted cherry tomatoes (or tomato jam!), sliced prosciutto or salami, crusty bread, and plenty of torn basil, you’ll be transported to Italy on the wings of a cheese famously served in hospitals.
I love Breakstone brand, but buy whichever is your favorite. The only suggestion I’ll make is to steer clear of low-fat versions: just like good yogurt or ice cream, full fat has the best flavor of course, and other additives aren’t added to compensate for a lower fat content.
Why Is It Called Cottage Cheese, Anyway?
William Shakespeare once had some things to say about what’s in a name, and I echo that sentiment when it comes to cottage cheese. According to my research amidst the pages of www.cheese.com (a domain name I’ll eternally wish I owned) cottage cheese got its name because it was, well, made in cottages.
From this historical tidbit I’m reminded of the Demitri Martin joke about how oranges must have been named before carrots: “And what are those? Long pointies? Are we going by shapes now?” I imagine there were many other cheeses already existing before the invention of cottage cheese, so the cottage-dwelling innovators must have looked around their four walls and thought “good enough,” and thus, cottage cheese was born.
Centuries later, we presently find ourselves in a brand-obsessed culture, and yet, cottage cheese curiously never got a rebrand. But it is making a comeback lately—a far cry from its humble cottage origins—and while cottage cheese clearly never needed public approval to be delicious, I’m at least glad it’s getting some overdue time in the spotlight. I’ll petition to rename it Passport Cheese, if it ever decides it’s looking for a rebrand!