This is one of those odd little recipes that I created to fulfill a specific nutritional need, but that then turned out to be a delicious treat as well. Here was my thinking. I wanted to concoct a breakfast dish that I could consume quickly before leaving for work, or, alternately, could take with me in a container and eat at my desk. First priority: protein (so important in the morning). Eggs always come to mind. To me they are the perfect food. But I can’t eat them every day, to the exclusion of everything else (or can I?). Yogurt occurred to me second. Plain yogurt is a wonderful thing. I eat it for breakfast often, and incorporate it into other meals, too. But as much as I love it, I was seeking a little variety. Then cottage cheese came to mind. Kind of boring, really (unless used in Olive and Cheese Tapa, that is). Functional, but bland. Not the most exciting prospect.
How to make cottage cheese more interesting, while boosting the nutritional value? Nuts, of course. I add them to so many things. They contain all sorts of vitamins and minerals, as well as wonderfully good oils. And dried fruit. More vitamins, along with a touch of sweetness. But sweetness needs tempering, which could be offset by green onion, adding a slight sharpness along with a verdant freshness. But the concoction still required something else, another contrasting element. Heat? A little heat is always good. In went a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper flakes, and voila, the dish was done. Nearly done, that is. One more element. In the refrigerator I found a lone lemon. Its citrus-y zest tied all of the other flavors together.
The final result? A delicious breakfast. Sweet, spicy, sour, and tangy. Smooth, creamy, crunchy, and chewy. A lovely little treat to begin the day. Begun with that bland cottage cheese.
Sweet and Spicy Breakfast Cheese
24 oz cottage cheese (not non-fat)
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped if needed
1/2 cup nuts, chopped or sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (preferably Aleppo)
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
Mix all of the ingredients together. Chill. (I don’t add salt, but you can if you wish.)