BBC Good Food Magazine
1 INGREDIENT, 3 WAYS
Chef, cookery teacher and food writer Melek Erdal shares recipes using the versatile Greek cheese that’s also popular in Turkey where she was born
Melek Erdal shares ideas for using versatile feta
I’ve recently discovered upon doing some research that feta, like champagne, has a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) for Greece. Across the wider Mediterranean, Middle East and Balkan regions, it is known as ‘white cheese’, its resilience and wide use being testament to its versatility.
I remember my mum mashing up feta with baby biscuits, milk, eggs and a drizzle of tea for nutritious baby food. The cheese was always on the breakfast or lunch table, served with slices of watermelon and crusty white bread. If you had no time or nothing to eat, you’d still have white cheese, black olives and sesame bread with a strong black tea, or ‘çay’ (chai).
In my mother and father’s village, my grandmother made lavash bread on the ‘saj’, a concave iron stove on the fire. We’d put chunks of freshly churned butter in the bread and crumble in a version of white cheese, then roll the bread up and have this with strong sweet tea for breakfast.
With its balance of sour acidity and moreish creaminess, it has an umami that can be utilised in a range of dishes – whizzed into salad dressings or even whipped for desserts, like a heightened soft cheese in a jazzed-up sundae. Due to its soft texture, I often use it in bakes, because it acts much like yogurt as a raising agent. But it’s also great just whisked with eggs to make the fluffiest omelettes. My fridge is never without feta, a trusted friend.