As a kid ￼I was always fascinated with the 'Diet Delights' section of the pancake house menu. It featured a photo of a scoop of cottage cheese on a bed of iceberg, flanked with sliced melon or strawberries. "Why would anyone want to eat that for breakfast?" I would ask the table. Flash forward a few years, and I’ve found a much improved version of this salad, and I’m having it for lunch.
This cottage cheese combination hits all my favorite notes; it’s a perfect balance of savory, crunchy, tart, sweet, and creamy. (Also, you had me at “chopped salad.”) I’m using chopped fennel, apple, and cucumber here, but there’s lots of room for improvisation. Radishes, celery, carrots, bell peppers, and quick-blanched green beans or asparagus would all be at home. On the fruit front, apples are my favorite option because they bridge the world of savory and sweet. Use different varieties, like Honeycrisp for a bright sweetness or Granny Smith for a tart hit. (If you enjoy another type of crunchy fruit, I’d love to hear your ideas! Leave comments below.)
Make a simple vinaigrette using rice-wine vinegar (white-wine or apple-cider would work too) and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss diced fruit and vegetables. You can use this mixture straight away or tuck it in the fridge for a couple of hours. (I think the flavor improves as the fruit and vegetables marinate in the dressing.) Serve spooned over a scoop of cottage cheese and garnish with fennel fronds or chopped parsley.
If you’re packing this, I recommend spooning the vegetable mixture into the bottom of your container and topping with cottage cheese -- this keeps the juices at the bottom. Cottage cheese is a rich source of protein, so this salad will keep you feeling full and energized all afternoon. I like to eat this with hearty, nutty crackers such as Raincoast Crisps. If I’ve got tender greens, I’ll throw those on top too. Get your knife work out of the way at the beginning of the week, and enjoy this salad all week -- it’s great for a quick dinner or late-afternoon snack.
Oh, looking for ways to use up the rest of your cottage cheese container? Great options here.
Tune in every Sunday for a new Healthy Appetite video from Shira Bocar.
Watch Shira make this easy, versatile chopped salad with cottage cheese: