Say “Cheese” – Saganaki Greek Cheese That Is!
By now you may be realizing that all this week we have been highlighting people, stories and food that come from the Mediterranean. Up until now, we have been focused primarily on Italy.
Today we are “sailing” off to Greece with a recipe from one of my favorite food groups….cheese! This could hardly be any more simple to make. And if you are a cheese lover like I am, it couldn’t be any more delicious
So here’s to love, joy and abundant living….and as the Greeks in my family say…”Opa!”
Saganaki – Greek Fried Cheese
1 lb of cheese (see choices for kind of cheese below)*
1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil
Flour for dredging the cheese
Fresh mint, chopped
In a heavy bottomed skillet (cast iron works best) heat the oil until good and hot but not smoking.
Cut the cheese into 1/2″ thick slices or wedges. The shape of the cheese pieces will be determined by the kind of cheese you buy. If you buy a square chunk of cheese you will end up with rectangular slices. If you buy a wedge of cheese you will have triangular pieces. Both work equally well. You can use any of the three kinds of cheese listed below. Try all three and see which is more to your liking….though if you love cheese you will, no doubt, like them all
Dredge each slice of cheese in flour to coat the outside. Place in the hot oil and fry just until the cheese is golden brown. Fry only as many pieces at a time as your pan can comfortably hold. Flip the cheese over and brown the other side. When all the cheese is done stack it on a platter, give it a good squeeze of fresh lemon and sprinkle it with mint.
Serve as an appetizer or a side dish, with fresh pita bread….we will give you the recipe for homemade pita and some other delicious Mediterranean dishes tomorrow, so check back then. Making fresh warm pita bread is much easier than you might think and even more delicious than you imagine. Especially when served with this wonderful cheese!
* Kefalotyri is a salty cheese, sometimes compared to a Romano Peccorino in flavor and both cheeses are made of sheep’s milk. If you like piquant flavors and like your cheese salty, you may want to use Kefalotyri for saganaki.
Kasseri is a mild sheep’s milk cheese that often appears on Greek tables for nibbling on during dinner. It’s the least salty of all the cheeses mentioned here but it holds up well to high heat.
Halloumi cheese which is from Cyprus, can also be used to make saganaki. It is generally made of sheep’s milk. It is buttery in flavor, and the amount of salt varies from brand to brand.
As mentioned earlier, these are all very tasty cheeses and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.