Monday, June 10, 2013

Meatless Monday: Pasta with Cottage Cheese, Basil and Feta

This is a simple uncooked sauce - great for summer. It has basil and garlic, like pesto, but the cheeses are totally different. Cottage cheese gives it volume and feta gives it tang and saltiness. You don't need a food processor to puree it. It's not smooth like pesto. If you want a smoother sauce, you can puree it in the food processor.

In order to eliminate the chunks in the garlic, it's smooshed with the flat side of a knife with salt. The salt acts as an abrasive, grinding up the garlic into a paste. At first, the garlic and the salt don't want to combine, but with a little elbow grease, the garlic and the salt come together.

Pasta with Cottage Cheese, Basil, and Feta Sauce
(serves 4-6, costs $8.60)

3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 large pinches salt
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup lowfat (2%) cottage cheese
½ cup finely crumbled feta cheese, 4 to 5 ounces plus a bit more for garnish
2 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds broccoli florets
16 ounces fusilli or rotini

Place a large pot of water over high heat.

Sprinkle the salt over the garlic on a cutting board. With the flat side of a knife, press down and smoosh the garlic and salt together. Keep doing this until the garlic and salt form a smooth paste, using the knife to bring the garlic back into a tight pile periodically. Pile on the chopped basil and chop until the basil is finely chopped and well combined with the garlic paste. Place in a medium bowl. Add the cottage cheese, feta cheese, olive oil, and black pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the broccoli and set the time for another 5 minutes. Check the pasta when the timer goes off. Cook for 1 more minute if still chewy. Reserve ¼ cup cooking liquid and drain the broccoli and pasta. Place in a large bowl. Pour on the cottage cheese sauce and add the reserved cooking liquid. Toss together to coat the pasta and broccoli. Serve, sprinkling with a little bit more feta cheese, if desired.

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