In an era when the kitchen was clearly a woman’s domain, my grandfather was the family cook, and an excellent one at that. When I was about 11, he served up a platter of hamburgers to my brothers and I that appeared plentiful enough to feed the entire block. Cooked in a cast iron skillet and served on squishy white buns, they were ‘drip-down-the-chin” juicy; we ate every last one. I had never put away more than one hamburger before in my life, and haven’t since.
My grandmother, on the other hand, cooked very little, with a limited repertoire of dishes. This cottage cheese dip was one of them. It was something that came out for company: to keep the guests satiated while my grandfather worked his magic in the kitchen, and my grandmother entertained everyone on the piano or with a game of cards. Cottage cheese dip became the appetizer staple in my house growing up as well. We knew to expect guests when my mother would pull together its few ingredients — cottage cheese, red onion, parsley, mayonnaise, and black pepper — using the cottage cheese container as her mixing bowl. Then, she’d empty it into a ceramic dish along with crackers and whatever raw vegetables were in the refrigerator.
These days, as the options for appetizers have blossomed from the seven layer creations of my childhood to include artisanal cheeses, exotic spreads, and crostini of every stripe, there continues to be a place for my grandmother’s humble invention.
Cottage cheese has a reputation for being one of the least sexy foods on the planet. But its mild flavor is exactly what makes it an ideal vehicle for the other flavors and textures in this recipe. With the tender spring onions available at the moment, now is a particularly suitable time of year to make this. Plus, cottage cheese is a wholesome source of protein. Served with a bundle of crunchy vegetables, the dip is a nourishing tide-me-over for kids (and adults) awaiting dinner. It’s also my “go to” for a light lunch, and works well in kids’ lunchboxes.
COTTAGE CHEESE DIP
- 1 16-ounce container low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, onion, and salt. Add a few generous turns of your pepper grinder. Stir well and serve with cut up raw vegetables and/or crackers.
Makes 2 1/4 cups