Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pasta with creamy no cream sauce!

Before I address the intentionally contradictory title of today's post and subsequent recipe, I've gotta share a little project of mine going on at work.  It has no relation to this post whatsoever, but(t) let me explain... I, like a bazillion other Americans sit for 90% of my work day, and by the time 4:30 rolls around, my glutes are kiiiiiilling me.  I'm talking sore, feel the need to stretch them, ice them, and get a massage all at the same time.  I did a little research and found that sitting for extended periods of time does, in fact, keep your gluteal muscles stretched all day long, thus weakening them.  Add to that fact that, upon leaving work, I immediately head to the gym and stress my muscles to the max.  Shock to my body.

Solution?  A standing workstation.  Since most standing desks tend to be quite pricey, I fashioned myself one out of a monitor riser and two upside down hanging file holders, one each for my keyboard and mouse.  Sure, it's not the most glamorous thing, but it works perfectly fine.  After day #2, I am happy to report that I felt more alert throughout the work day and tush pain has subsided :)  Do you sit or stand at work?  I'm curious to hear if any of you have standing desks and what you think of them.

Now, to the real reason you're here -- creamy two cheese sauce with pasta:

Just look at that creamy gooey goodness:

An unfortunate thing happens when warmer weather rolls around -- I neglect almost all things pasta.  Sure, the occasional helping of a chilled picnic pasta salad sneaks in, but for the most part, my apartment is a no noodle zone.  My brain has trained my appetite to long for every kind of fresh fruit and vegetable in sight because, hey, soon they will be gone more expensive.  Get while the getting is good, right?  Plus, a big bowl of pasta just screams "curl up on the couch in your warm home and enjoy a quiet lazy evening" rather than "get outside and go for a 5 mile walk in the sweltering heat."

Well, funny thing about pasta, you see.  Apparently when you deprive yourself of it for too long, it sends cravings to your brain, telling it to override any of that warm weather nonsense and just make some, already.  But a cream sauce?  Isn't that just a little too much?  No, sir.  Because it's a light velvety cream sauce... with no cream!  Instead, the smooth texture comes from the cottage and Pecorino Romano cheeses melting in harmony.  Before you cottage cheese haters click away, hear me out -- it melts, losing its curd-like consistency (which, I hear, is most people's primary objection to the stuff) and turns into a sinfully luscious sauce with a billion (or something) less calories than your traditional Alfredo or cream sauce.  I used non-fat cottage cheese, packed full of protein (13 grams in a 1/2 cup, talk about a power food!), and if I hadn't made it myself, I would've never believed it skipped the cream.

Still need some convincing?  It uses just four ingredients.  (I don't count salt and pepper since Food Network's Five Ingredient Fix omits it, as well.)  Four.  Most cold cut sandwiches require more than that.  In other words, put down that sandwich you've been making for dinner because it's just too hot and make this pasta right now.

A few notes: Many varieties of pasta will do, but I would recommend using a sturdier noodle -- angel hair wouldn't really hold up with a thicker sauce like this.  I might try for small shells next time or even a penne.  Also, you could use Parmesan in place of the Pecorino Romano, basically any dry grating cheese will do.  Finally, while this is close-your-eyes delicious when freshly made, it doesn't reheat the next day quite as well.  It was still scrumptious and I surely ate it all, but I next time I would scale back the amounts and only make what would be eaten that same day.

Cottage Cheese Cream Sauce over Spaghetti
-serves 2-3

6 ounces of spaghetti or linguine noodles
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan would work well, too)
Ground black pepper

Cook the spaghetti per the instructions on the package, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water for later use.  Drain pasta and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, egg yolk, and grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the reserved pasta water and reduce by almost half of its original volume, then whisk in the cottage cheese mixture.  Reduce heat to low and continue to whisk mixture until smooth and the cheese has melted.  Return the cooked pasta to the saucepan, tossing to coat.  Serve with additional grated cheese and more black pepper, if desired.  Oh, and marvel at the fact that there is no cream in sight :)

Today is National Julienne Fries Day!


  1. I made this tonight with Mozzarella instead of Parm or PR cheese - but was still delicious! Thank you for sharing - and I love the boost of protein in this recipe!

    1. I'm so glad you loved the recipe! And thanks for the tip -- I think I'm going to have to try this with mozzarella, maybe the buffalo variety for an extra kick? Happy eating :)

  2. Was searching for a simple pasta recipe WITHOUT heavy cream and this is beautiful! And I awe at NO HEAVY CREAM!!

    1. Thank you, Mason! I can't wait to hear what you think of it. It's one of my go-to quick comfort foods. And, no cream in the recipe means more dessert later, right? :)

  3. This was amazing! I used angel hair noodles and threw in some broccoli, even the boyfriend loved it. Thanks.

    1. I add broccoli to nearly everything but haven't yet tried it with this. Thanks for the suggestion and glad you both enjoyed it!

  4. Great! Thanks for sharing! I seasoned and browned ground turkey and used angel hair pasta...served with sides of cottage cheese and green peas. Yum!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Shannon! Now you've got me thinking about what other proteins I could add: tuna, lump crab, or even lobster. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. I just made this recipe for lunch with Zucchetti (zucchini spaghetti) and it was wonderful! Thank you for this recipe!!

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