Some of my best dinners have come from cooking spontaneously with few ingredients on hand. You’re forced to make do with what you’ve got because you haven’t gone grocery shopping in over a week or you forget ingredients at the store. Or you just cook things based on cravings. Or all of the above.
I came home from doing some quick grocery shopping when I decided that I was craving lasagna. Well, I didn’t have any ricotta on hand and didn’t purchase any while I was at the store. I even eyed the ricotta when I passed it at the store, but I still didn’t buy it. What I did have on hand, was some cottage cheese. I’ve seen many recipes that use cottage cheese in conjunction and in place of ricotta. I had always shied away from using cottage cheese because its texture grosses me out and I’ve never thought of eating it warm.
I should have stuck with my intuition, because it was just plain gross. Everything else was on par, but I just couldn’t get past the cottage cheese. I ended up scraping it off and eating the rest of the ingredients.
This might have been a good and quick summertime lasagna for two, had I used actual ricotta. I say summertime because I used a toaster oven, although summertime veggies would be a great addition!
Here’s what I had on hand:
3 leftover, uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 bunch of kale
1 can of whole tomatoes
1 almost full, almost expired tub of cottage cheese
1 bag of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 package of Provolone slices
Here’s what I did:
- Boiled a pot of salted water.
- Heated olive oil in a pan and added a whole garlic clove. As it browned, I added red pepper flakes. I added kale that I rinsed and tore into small pieces. I cooked it for a few minutes until the leaves were tender and bright green. I seasoned it with salt and fresh ground pepper. I set it aside to cool down.
- Heated another bit of olive oil in the same pan and added another whole garlic clove. I added about 5 of the canned whole tomatoes with juice (or you can use the whole can and save the rest for another recipe). Be careful, it will splatter! I broke up the tomatoes with a spatula and continued to cook them until the sauce thickened.
- Meanwhile, when the water boiled, I cooked the lasagna noodles for about 9-10 minutes. I drained them and set them aside on a piece of foil.
- Combined cottage cheese (you can use ricotta or tofu) with a handful of parmesan cheese, freshly ground nutmeg and pepper, dried herbs (rosemary, basil, & oregano), and garlic salt (all according to your taste). I think I used about a cup of cottage cheese. Set aside.
- I spread a spoonful of sauce on the bottom of a baking pan that fits in my toaster oven. Cut noodles in half. I assembled the lasagna layers by laying down two noodles, side by side. I added the kale (I didn’t use all of it), cottage cheese, and sauce. I repeated this once more, and then topped it with another noodle, sauce, and a slice of provolone and a sprinkling of parmesan.
- I covered it with foil and baked it at 350° for about 15 minutes or until heated through.
It looked good and seemed to taste good, but I couldn’t get past the texture of the cottage cheese. I didn’t take a picture because I was too excited to try it, and then I was too disappointed to capture it.
Have you ever used cottage cheese in lieu of ricotta? What have been your dinner mishaps?