Amish Italian?

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I’ve written a lot about the influence of Hispanic culinary culture on Amish cooking, but what about others?  While south-of-the-border flavors like jalapenos and salsa are becoming quite common among the Amish, Italian inspired foods began making inroads into Plain cooking decades ago.  Homemade pizzas and pastas are now common among the Old Order Amish.  As those Italian staples moved into mainstream American culinary culture, the Amish took note.  And, really, it’s not a stretch.  Amish cooks have been homemade noodle-makers for years and, of course, Italian cooks are known for the same.  With bountiful gardens full of tomatoes this time of year, homemade pasta and pizza sauces are a natural fit. The Amish Cook shared a recipe in her column several years ago for a rigatoni and cheese casserole.  Rigatoni is an Italian pasta, but many Amish cooks do use their homemade noodles for this recipe.  This looks delicious, thanks to Diann, who tested this recipe.  And it looks so delicious I may have to test it too!:)  This recipe is adapted to the at-home cook, an Amish cook would use homemade noodles, cottage cheese, and sauce from the garden and so can you.  In fact, the cottage cheese is an example of how the Amish sort of borrow recipes from other cultures and add their own stamp, in an Italian dish you’d ricotta cheese.

 

RIGATONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

1 pound of ground beef

2 26 ounce jars of spaghetti sauce

16 ounces of cottage cheese

1 1 pound box of rigatoni noodles, cooked

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1 /4 cup grated parmesan cheese

4 cups mozzarella cheese

 

Preheat oven to 350. In saucepan over medium heat brown beef and add pasta sauce and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese with 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and eggs. Grease 13 X 9 baking dish and spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce mixture. Top with 1/ 2 of the noodles, cheese mixture and repeat in layers until everything is used up. Sprinkle remaining 3 cups of mozzarella cheese over top. . Bake uncovered until bubbly, 45 minutes. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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The Discussion


  1. The pasta recipe looks delicious, but I would like to state that cottage cheese is NEVER used in Italian or Italian -American cooking. Ricotta cheese, with is a nicer, smooth texture cheese, is what is ALWAYS called for. It is easily found in all grocery stores. It may seem the same, but cottage cheese is not a real substitute for Ricotta.

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    • Christine, you beat me too the punch…I was just adding a sentence about the cottage cheese to the main text. You are correct!:)

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  2. Oh yum. On the ricotta vs cottage cheese debate – I’d rather have it with cottage cheese than not at all!

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  3. Actually cottage cheese has much more moisture than ricotta, but I have
    used cottage cheese in some recipes years ago when ricotta wasn’t so
    widely available. It’s not a bad substitute. (my family came from Northern
    Italy and my grandmother cooked in her brother’s restaurant/trattoria for
    many years after WWI)

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    • Sabrina DiGuiseppe says:


      I am so excited to see this recipe! The cottage cheese was a great diet substitute! I remember a similar one as a kid Grandma made. She was so concerned about health and budget, it was a lower fat alternative. Also it was cheaper than ricotta and so she called it “Poor man’s lasagna”. (anything that was less expensive was labeled “Poor man’s something”!)

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      • You are right, for most Amish cooks – especially 10, 20 years ago when this recipe started making its rounds in their community – cottage cheese was far more accessible that ricotta. Actually, for most Amish, it’d probably still be easier for them to make homemade cottage cheese than try to go to the supermarket to buy ricotta.

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        • Barb Wright says:


          Homemade cottage cheese is drier than store bought..so it would be alot like ricotta. This looks really good,by the way. Diann did a great job!!

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  4. This sounds delicious! My favorite lasagna recipe uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta, and it’s so much better than other lasagna recipes I’ve tried.

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