Treat Yourself to Feta, Fruit, Vegetables, and Wine

Feta combined with fruits, vegetables and wineAll cheeses have their own distinctive qualities, but feta, one of the world’s freshest cheeses, has a flavor all its own. It is basically a soft but compact cheese sans holes and the skin present in cheeses like brie and camembert. Usually sold in blocks submerged in brine, this cheese can range from sharp to very mild. This makes it ideal for mixing with fruits and vegetables. If you have been looking for a new way to serve your fruit or your salad with cheese, give this wholesome creation a try.

Telling Feta from Other Cheeses

People from all over the world can make “feta” cheese if they have the tools, the sheep’s milk, and the goat’s milk to do so. However, because the name feta is protected under EU laws as a PDO (protected designation of origin) product, the cheese they produce can’t be called feta unless it is made in the traditional way in the mainland of Greece or the island of Lesbos.

Most cheeses that claim to be feta are made of cow’s milk, and this cheese has to be made from at least 70 percent ewe’s milk and no more than 30 percent goat’s milk. By their very nature both have a flavor different from cow’s milk, and the cheese made from them is tangier. Moreover, the humidity, the climate, and the natural bacteria in mainland Greece and Lesbos contribute to the unique taste of feta cheese.

Combining Feta with Fruits and Vegetables

Feta cheese provides marvelous contrast to nuts, melons and watermelons; it brings out the best in figs, peaches, pears, and apples. Actually, feta goes well with just about every kind of fruit, which is why it is a good ingredient for fruit as well as vegetable salads.

One of the most popular salads is watermelon and feta salad. Seasoned with pepper flakes and ground pepper, this salad is made simply by mixing three parts of watermelon chunks to a cup of crumbled feta. It is the perfect ending to a meal featuring lamb or beef as main course.

Another salad using feta cheese is the well-known Greek salad. There are countless recipes for this rich dish. Some add anchovies to their preparation while Rachel Ray, well-known for her thirty-minute meals, simply uses tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, olive oil, oregano, and of course, feta cheese. Ina Garten, renowned restaurateur of Barefoot Contessa fame, adds a little mustard to her dressing.

Feta Cheese and Wine

Wine can be paired marvelously with feta as long as you bear in mind the very nature of this cheese. Wine and Food writer Meg Houston Maker sets some wise pairing models for choosing wines to go with feta.

She says, “Sweet wines beautifully balance the saltiest cheeses like hard Grana, blue cheese, aged Gouda, or feta. The salt in the cheese heightens the perception of sweetness in the wine, so a wine that’s already headed in that direction makes for a breezy pairing…” For feta and other soft cheeses she recommends trying “Riesling (dry to sweet), Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Champagne… Provençal rosé, Beaujolais… Fino sherry.”

Next time you go to the grocery and notice those neat little boxes of feta cheese, grab a pack, get some fruit and a bottle of bubbly. With these three things you are in for a real treat!

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