Making cottage cheese pasta sauce just makes sense. Its creamy, subtle flavor profile works well with most pasta dishes while increasing the protein content. This post includes a decadent butternut squash pasta sauce recipe perfect for a fall or winter comfort dish. The crispy pancetta with the rich cottage cheese butternut squash blend combines both sweet and savory.
Scroll down for the recipe, as well as some additional ideas for incorporating cottage cheese into pasta sauce.
By now, you’ve probably seen cottage cheese used in a variety of different recipes from ice cream to smoothies – and here we have pasta sauce. It is a perfect substitute for high fat cream or whole milk required for most cream sauces. So get ready to jump on the cottage cheese train and make delicious and nutritious pasta sauce!
What is Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce?
Cottage cheese pasta sauce could essentially be any pasta sauce blended with cottage cheese. When the cottage cheese is “whipped” or blended, it creates a smooth cohesive consistency that mixes well into a pasta sauce.
Benefits of Using Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce
A cottage cheese pasta sauce is ideal for those who love pasta, but are striving to be a little more health conscious.
Not only is cottage cheese low in fat and calories, it’s very high in protein. Protein is an important macronutrient physiologically, and is important in weight control as it promotes the feeling of fullness. Several research studies have concluded that increased protein intake can contribute to an increase in weight loss and the prevention of gaining weight back after loss (1).
It is very versatile and could essentially be a substitute for cream, milk, ricotta or mascarpone cheese in any of your favorite pasta sauce dishes. Adding cottage cheese will still provide that creamy texture found in the most decadent pasta sauces, but without all the calories from the heavy cream.
Suitable for various diets, as it can be gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto friendly.
Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce
Butternut squash, garlic, sage, and crispy pancetta combined with a creamy whipped cottage cheese make this pasta sauce delicious!
Plus, it really packs a nutritional punch: 1) you’ve got the butternut squash which is slightly sweet and high in vitamins A and C, and 2) has the increased protein content from the cottage cheese. It’s also really delicious! A mix of sweet and savory.
Make this dish even healthier by selecting a whole grain pasta, a chickpea pasta, or Barilla Protein +. I made this sauce with Barilla Protein + (my fave) which has 10 grams of protein per 2 oz. serving.
- Roasted Butternut Squash: Frozen butternut squash would work just as well. Substitute with about 3 cups of frozen squash.
- Cottage Cheese: I used low-fat, small curd cottage cheese. The large curd is more acidic with less moisture, so add more liquid if used. A higher-fat cottage cheese may result in an even richer, creamier sauce.
- Chicken Broth: Used to add a little flavor while thinning out the sauce so it’s not too thick.
- Pancetta: Crispy pancetta adds a salty crunch which pairs well with the sweetness of the squash.
- Parmesan Cheese: Adds a bit more flavor to the sauce and makes it taste more well-balanced.
- Sage: Provides an earthy flavor and is often used in fall dishes. Be careful not to use too much, or omit if you don’t like it.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Measure with your heart’s desire.
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Tips for Success
1. This recipe calls for an entire butternut squash, roasted. Whip the cottage cheese prior to adding the butternut squash to ensure the best consistency (or you can buy whipped cottage cheese now!). A large blender provides the best results as it is difficult to fit it all in a Nutri-bullet – but it can be done!
2. Use additional pasta water or chicken broth to thin out the pasta sauce if needed.
3. Feel free to add any additional spices – nutmeg might be delicious in this.
4. Instead of adding the garlic to the squash puree, roasting it in the oven with the butternut squash might make this dish even tastier.
5. Add the sauce in with the heat turned off to prevent the sauce from curdling.
How to Make Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce
1. Roast the Butternut Squash
Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush each half with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Place both halves on a baking sheet (face up) with garlic cloves and bake for 45 minutes. Frozen butternut squash would be an easy substitute, just microwave according to the package directions!
2. Brown the Pancetta and Onions
Heat a pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pancetta and diced onions. Stir occasionally, until the pancetta is crispy.
3. Make the Cottage Cheese Butternut Squash Puree
While the pancetta and onions are cooking, add butternut squash, cottage cheese, and chicken broth to a blender. Blend until a smooth purée consistency.
4. Combine the Ingredients in a Pan
Add the blended mixture to the pancetta and onions, and turn the heat to simmer. Cooking this sauce on too high of heat will cause it to curdle.
Incorporate the sage, parmesan cheese, and a little pasta water or chicken broth if it seems to thick. Add in Barilla Protein+ noodles. Combine until all the noodles are coated with the sauce. Enjoy!
How Can I Make It Low Calorie/Low Carb?
To make this recipe low calorie/low carb I recommended using spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute! One cup is only 40 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates. It will also add some additional vitamin A, C and fiber.
I am a huge spaghetti squash fan. After many attempts, I have figured out the best way to cook it. Cut it crosswise, not lengthwise, and put both sides face down on parchment paper. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes to get the perfect al dente strands.
For More Cottage Cheese Inspired Recipes:
Recipe Ideas using Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce
Essentially, you could add cottage cheese to just about any pasta sauce – sweet or savory. It could be used to replace heavy cream, whole milk, mascarpone or ricotta cheese. Get creative and come up with your own version of cottage cheese pasta sauce!
Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:
1. Creamy Marinara Sauce: A simple marinara combining crushed tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning with whipped cottage cheese.
2. Spinach and Cottage Cheese Stuffed Shells: Mix the cheese filling with cottage cheese and bake.
3. Chicken and Spinach Alfredo; or try this Chicken Alfredo Cottage Cheese Spaghetti Squash.
4. Cajun Chicken Pasta with Bell Peppers and Corn.
5. Cottage Cheese Pesto Sauce: Blend cottage cheese, fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor until smooth.
6. Cottage Cheese Ravioli or Manicotti.
How Long Can I Store Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce?
Make a large batch and freeze for up to 3 months to save yourself some time and mess!
Can I Prepare the Sauce in Advance?
Yes! This sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days. Make the sauce ahead of time, and prepare the noodles the day of for the most fresh pasta.
Can I Eat This Sauce If I Am Lactose Intolerant?
Individuals with lactose intolerance have varying degrees of intolerance. Some people are only affected when drinking milk, while others are affected by all dairy. If you’re worried, take a lactase enzyme prior to consuming this sauce.
Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pasta Sauce
- 1 butternut squash, or 2-3 cups of butternut squash cubes
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup pancetta, cubed
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, diced small
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 14 ounces Barilla Protein Plus noodles (optional)
- Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush each half with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place both halves on baking sheet (face up), and bake for 45 minutes.
- Heat up a pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pancetta and diced onions. Stir occasionally, until the onions become translucent and the pancetta is nice and crispy.
- While the pancetta is cooking, add the butternut squash, cottage cheese, and chicken broth to a blender until smooth.
- Pour the cottage cheese butternut squash puree into the pan with the pancetta and onions, and turn the heat down to simmer. Add parmesan cheese, sage, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
- If preparing pasta with this sauce, add some pasta water to thin it out. If not, add additional chicken broth as needed if the sauce seems too thick. Fold the sauce into pasta, or freeze for a later time!
Want More Cottage Cheese Recipe Ideas?
Another moderately messy meal in the kitchen! All in all, the cottage cheese pasta sauce was so delicious. There’s enough protein for an entire meal, however, I did ate some diced chicken for to add a little more.
I love the combination of the butternut squash and the cottage cheese, and it really feels like you’re eating a rich, high fat pasta sauce when it’s mostly squash!
This is a great recipe for fall, I hope you make it! Let me know what you think if you try it.