What is Feta?
Feta cheese originates from Greece, and it has been part of their diet since around the 8th century B.C. Accounting for almost 70% of the cheese consumed in Greece, it is safe to say it is a staple in Greek cuisine.
Traditional Greek feta cheese is made from 100% sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk.
With other countries now also making feta cheese, you’ll find that there are feta cheeses that are also made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk. The Greeks, of course, don’t believe that this is authentic feta.
To make feta, casein and rennet are added to milk, be it pure sheep’s milk or a combination of the two types. The milk will then thicken, and the curd is separated and placed firmly inside moulds. At this point, any excess whey is drained off.
The cheese is then sliced into smaller blocks, salted and dried. After that, they are then aged in brine, with the duration lasting anywhere between a few weeks to a few months, depending on the cheesemaker.
What is Feta PDO?
According to Feta PDO, PDO is to protect local agricultural and livestock products and traditional recipes. The European Union adopted specific regulations that enable producers from every region to present their traditional products highlighting their specific features and special taste.
This way, consumers are given the opportunity to experience each region’s gustatory culture and buy quality products that can guarantee their production, processing, and geographic origin.
This means that for feta to be certified PDO, they must adhere to some stringent guidelines. This includes meeting EU quality and safety specifications and must be produced in Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Mainland Greece, Peloponnesus, Lesvos, Limnos or Agios Efstratios.
They go so far as to stipulate that the milk from the sheep and goats must have grazed on those aforementioned geographical areas.
No preservatives or colourants can be added, and the whole process must be organic. After that, the feta is quality checked to ensure it meets the standards of the EU legislation.
If ever you have eaten such feta, you can be assured that it was of the highest quality and the most well produced feta in the world.
Why is Feta so Salty?
Feta is salty because it is submerged in brine during the aging process. It takes about 2 months to mature, of which the feta can then be consumed. The feta remains in the brine to the point of consumption which is why you’ve probably noticed that it is always sitting in some liquid.
If you find the feta too salty, you can wash the feta under water. Pat dry gently before eating.
What Does Feta Taste Like?
Flavour: The overpowering flavour of feta cheese is its saltiness as it is stored in brine. Some people find it too salty, while others relish it and rely on it for the overall taste of a recipe.
Feta is also slightly tangy with citrus or lemony flavours and can be quite sharp.
Texture: Creamy, crumbly and a little grainy. The level of melt in your mouth factor does vary across different cheeses as they are aged differently, and the cheese making process from region to region is never the same.
What Goes Well with Feta?
Fruit and Vegetables
Artichoke, asparagus, avocado, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, eggplant, fava beans, grapefruit, kale, lemon, lettuce, olives, orange, pear, persimmon, pomegranate, potato, radish, rocket, spinach, sugar snap peas, sweet potato, watermelon, zucchini, zucchini flower.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Almond, cayenne pepper, chervil, chilli, chives, coriander, dill, macadamia, marjoram, mint, paprika, parsley, peanut, pistachio, sage, tarragon, za’atar.
Protein and Other
Bulgur, chicken, chickpea, chorizo, couscous, egg, fish, lentils, pasta, pork, prawns, quinoa, rice, sausage, tahini, turkey, yoghurt.
How to Use Feta in Salads and Side Dishes?
Feta is such a versatile cheese and the perfect way to add some saltiness into any side or salad recipe.
They are fantastic on their own, crumbled throughout the salad or just on top to give it a little something extra. They can be folded through some warm vegetables if serving up a side dish and let it melt naturally to create those lovely creamy finishes.
We have used feta cheese to make a salad dressing too. Our Whipped Feta Dressing is ever so creamy and salty and makes the best base for a salad. Great for using vegetables to mop up the sauce.
Salads and Side Dishes with Feta
The versatility of the vibrant and earthy beetroot is showcased in this Beetroot and Feta Salad. Classically paired with salty feta cheese, softened by the delicate oak lettuce and cut through with the tart and bitter grapefruit, this salad is designed to impress.
Baked Portobello Mushroom Salad
This portobello mushroom salad is a meaty, smoky and earthy recipe accompanied by delicate micro leaves, crunchy pistachios and finished off with a lemon parsley vinaigrette. An easy way to serve up a fancy salad for a special occasion!
Roasted Green Cauliflower Salad with Feta Dressing
Sprinkle the paprika sunflower seeds over the perfectly Roasted Green Cauliflower Salad to give it a little kick. Finish it off with a cream whipped feta dressing and loads of herbaceous goodness. Yum!
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Feta is one of my favorite cheeses! I’m loving all these pairing suggestions!
The Devil Wears Salad
Ours too! Love how it’s so salty and crumbly.
Mihaela | https://theworldisanoyster.com/
It is true feta goes in any salad. I like the mushroom one you suggested here; I’ll give it a go very soon.
The Devil Wears Salad
Its so salty and crumbly. Adds some lovely textures to salad recipes.
So many great ideas here. I love the pairing of feta with veggies and fruits.
The Devil Wears Salad
Thank you Debra! Just helpful for when you’re stuck for ideas.
Feta is stapled in my fridge. I absolutely love it. Its saltiness and texture. Yum. I use feta on salads or baked with veggies. But you now gave me some brilliant ideas on how to pair it with other veggies and even fruits! Thanks!
The Devil Wears Salad
That’s awesome Natalie! We love feta too and honestly, good quality feta with some olive oil truly is the way to go.