Uncommonly Good

Favorite Ingredient: Feta Cheese

I first tasted feta cheese at Greek House, here in Norman, Oklahoma well over 25 years ago. It was also the first time I had gyros, which by the way, are authentic Greek and the absolute best. Not heart healthy by any means. The gyros meat cooks on vertical spits and the resulting grease is used for the fries.  Oh. My. Gosh. Soooo good. But back to the feta. The gyros plate—a pile of meat, fries, and Greek salad—is garnished with a Greek olive and a cube of feta. It was love at first bite.

For years, eating at Greek House was the only time I ate feta. Here in the big middle of the U S of A,  good ole American processed was the go-to cheese for most families, although sometimes it wasn’t really cheese. I’d long outgrown those orange slices when I came across these scrumptious white cubes of feta. At some point I came across it in the grocery store and put it in my cart. It’s been a staple in my kitchen ever since and I’m always finding, and looking for, new ways to eat it. 

I usually buy Athenos Feta Traditional by the block because it lasts longer than the crumbled feta.  I also like the Athenos packaging because it’s reclosable. When I want some, I’ll slice an appropriately sized slice and break it into chunks to top almost any salad or soup. 

Here it is on my Spinach Steak Salad with lots of fresh cracked pepper. I think I made a red wine vinegar vinaigrette to go with this. It’s a great garnish for soups as well, especially tomato and mushroom soups.

I switched from cheddar to feta as my go-to cheese garnish five or six years ago because I like the different spark of flavor it provides.  Today I found out on the Athenos facebook page that it does more than that. Here’s what they had to say about switching to feta.

Changing your salad topping from cheddar to Feta gives you
1) 6 grams of protein
2) 1/3 less fat and
3) 30% fewer calories!

They didn’t provide a quantity, for the cheeses, but 1/3 less fat and 30% fewer calories for equal portions sounds good to me.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Salad | , | 1 Comment

Sirloin Panini

I haunt the markdown sections of the grocery store and take advantage of good cuts of meat when they are marked down. Ribs, steaks, pork loin, brisket, all sorts of meats are frequently available after a heavily promoted sale. I pick up packages of sirloin steak when I come across them.

If I’m not going to use it within a day or two I’ll cut the steak in very thin slices and pack separate handfuls in Press n Seal storage wrap and freeze it. Then when I’m in the mood for steak I’ll take a portion out and defrost it in the microwave for a few minutes and then make my sandwich or salad.

Here’s how I made this one.

  • Sirloin steak in a marinade of balsamic vinegar and herb blend
  • Sliced red peppers and purple onion
  • Provolone cheese
  • Artisan Bread from Target

First cut the bread in half and toast it in a puddle of olive oil on a hot iron griddle.

Next saute the peppers and onions on the same griddle until softened. Move them to the side and put the steak on the griddle with the marinade. Place the toasted bread face down on the pile of meat and vegetables to steam and keep warm.

After a few minutes, it won’t take long, build the sandwich by covering each slice of bread with provolone cheese. Add a generous pile of meat and vegetables and place the sandwich back on the griddle. Use a bacon press or an iron skillet to press the sandwich to flatten. Turn after a few minutes to brown on both sides.
Cut the sandwich into quarters while still on the grill and serve with balsamic vinegar for dipping.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Sandwich | , | Leave a comment


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