Celebrating Feta Cheese
|Bread, olives and feta. Greek food trinity.|
As a Greek, I celebrate feta every day. It's difficult to stray from a typical summertime snack of a meaty slice of delicious and juicy tomato and a couple of bites of feta--that tangy and lightly salted Greek cheese that all Greeks grow up with on the table at every meal. It has been said, actually, that Greeks cannot sit down to lunch and dinner without bread, olives and feta on the table.
|Look on any Greek table and there's always bread, olives and feta cheese.|
|Nothing better than a traditional Greek salad topped with Greek feta!|
Yesterday was International Feta Day. Organized by the amazing Diana Moutsopoulos, senior editor with All Recipes, we celebrated on Instagram with countless photos of feta-dressed dishes and recipes. But the celebration continues, especially if you're Greek, because there's almost no dish (however simple) in the Greek Heritage Cooking repertoire that cannot be further improved upon with a teeny bite of feta.
|Boiled greens topped with ripe tomatoes, olive oil and feta cheese.|
|Briam, the ratatouille of traditional Greek cookery, is always better with feta.|
|Spanakorizo (spinach with tomato and rice) is served with|
feta on the side or crumbled over each bowl.
|The traditional Greek salad (Horiatiki) is never complete without a big chunk of feta.|
|The Meze table always features feta cheese. It's never an exclamation|
point on the table, but a necessary comma between bigger bites of deliciousness
|A beautiful flavor combination--boiled zucchini dressed with lemon and|
extra-virgin olive oil, Kalamata olives and feta. Simple, elegant and
|My simplified beet salad topped with feta.|
Ah, feta, the Greek condiment of choice. It adds a little saltiness and umami to every mouthful of food. It's also one of the best cheeses to eat for a healthier body. According to sources like WebMD and Healthline, feta cheese (made with sheep or a combination of sheep and goat milk) has a higher calcium and phosphorus content, a combination that aids in promoting stronger bones. It can contribute to a healthy gut simply by providing us with a variety of probiotics. Read labels, however. In the United States, feta can be made from cow's milk. The multitude of benefits from eating feta, including easier digestion and anti-inflammatory properties, come from the use of sheep or sheep & goat milk.
Hear ye, hear ye! I complain about the use of pre-crumbled feta cheese all the time. I even mumble to myself when I see it in the stores. Has it become so difficult to crumble cheese over our salad at the last minute? No, it's just an unnecessary marketing promotion and degrades the flavor of the cheese so that all you're left with is a salty flavor and nothing else. Buy feta in a block and crumble it as needed, and read the label. If it's not made with sheep's milk or a combination of sheep and goat milk, don't buy it. Demand authentic feta.
And your reward for reading to the end? My recipe for Cretan Dakos-inspired Dakos Tomato Toast.
Cretan Dakos Tomato Toast (from my Instagram tomato toast challenge of 2020)
1 thick hearty bread slice like multi-grain or sourdough
1 medium tomato (preferably a juicy heirloom), chopped coarsely
1/4 teaspoon dry Greek oregano*
1 generous pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon of chopped or sliced Kalamata olive (pitted)
1 ounce (less or more depending on your taste) of Greek feta cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
*If you have fresh oregano, substitute 1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped leaves.
- Toss the tomatoes with the salt, oregano and olive oil.
- Toast the bread really well. It should be dry and very crunchy.
- Load the toasted bread with the tomato mixture including the juices.
- Crumble the feta directly onto the tomatoes.
- Top with the chopped olives.
- If you have more of the tomato mix juices, drizzle onto the plate around the toast.
If you're interested in seeing some of the #fetaday2021 creations, try this link on Instagram.