A guest blog by Theodore Koukouvitis, author of The Smart Tourist’s Guide to Greece.
When it comes to Greek cheeses, in most foodie circles the discussion starts and ends with feta. Sure, feta is incredible and quintessentially Greek, but did you know that there are hundreds of other fantastic Greek cheeses virtually unknown outside Greece?
Not only that, but Greece sports 21 PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses; an incredibly high number for such a small country. To put this into perspective, Italy has 41 PDO cheeses while being twice as large as Greece, and five times more populous.
In this and future articles I aim to shed light on some of the most unique and interesting Greek cheeses beyond feta, starting with feta’s arch-nemesis: the kasseri!
As feta is synonymous with many white cheeses, so kasseri is for yellow cheeses.
Kasseri is the second most popular cheese in Greece, after feta. It’s a medium-hard, white-yellow cheese with solid body and absolutely no holes. Original kasseri is made from sheep’s milk and packs an incredible spring and flowery flavour and smell, while being a tad stringy.
Kasseri is deliciously chewy and melts without breaking up. These qualities make it a favourite of Greek kids everywhere as well as a staple in numerous Greek recipes, including kasseri pies (kasseropites) and grills. Kasseri is used in most Greek sandwiches.
Kasseri is one of Greece’s PDO cheeses and its production is very tightly regulated. Greeks are very serious about the quality of their kasseri!
Kasseri ages gracefully and mature kasseri (2+ years old) is considered a delicacy that goes well with delectable wines as well as common beer and spirits. Kasseri of whatever age goes fantastically well with tomatoes, grapes and watermelon.
Kasseri’s closest common cheese relatives
Similar non-Greek cheeses include provolone (Italy), caciocavallo (Italy) and muenster (USA).
Kasseri cheese and courgette omelette
This is a quick and easy recipe that serves two people.
- 7-8 medium-sized courgettes
- 120 g kasseri cheese, cubed
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
1. Clean and cut the courgettes into small slices 1 cm thick.
2. Oil the courgette slices and place them in a small oven-proof frying pan at 200°C (390°F; Gas Mark 6) for 5-10 minutes, until they start to brown.
3. Scramble the eggs and add salt and pepper.
4. Add the kasseri and the scrambled eggs to the courgettes.
5. Put everything back into the oven for 2-3 minutes until the kasseri is melted and the omelette cooked through.