With summer fast approaching you might be anticipating a lot of barbecues. Sure, you could bring a potato salad, but you do not impress anyone with that. To spice things up, you could take a cooking class or dig through some old cookbooks. But who has the time for all that trouble? Stick to the basics: everything tastes better with cheese.
The Greeks certainly know that. It’s a little known fact that the Greek cheese, feta, is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. Feta is a soft cheese with a crumbly texture made from goat and sheep milk.
The great thing about feta cheese is you can use it in a wide variety of ways. Crumble it in a salad, mix it into a dip, melt it on a pizza, or slice it in sandwiches. Also read fake whatsapp account. Adding feta is a perfect way for you to give your cooking light and breezy Mediterranean feel.
The downside of using feta is it isn’t easy to fit in a beach body diet. It’s loaded with fat and sodium.
It’s not very budget friendly either. Due to a few court battles, real feta cheese is only produced in Greece by law. And if you want the real deal, you’ll have to shell out $7 to $10 per pound.
So to help all you budget gourmets out there, we compiled a list of healthy and cost-effective feta substitutes.
Ricotta is a soft, creamy, Italian cheese. Cheesemakers use sheep, cow, or goat milk when making ricotta, similar to feta cheese.
Ricotta has a soft, mild and a light sweet flavour. Most people either love or hate feta cheese. There isn’t much middle ground due to it’s salty, tangy flavour. Also read mobihok. Ricotta has a much more gentle and sublime taste.
It also has much less sodium, so it’s a popular choice for those concerned with high blood pressure. It’s also worth mentioning that ricotta contains less than half the amount of fat as feta.
The texture of ricotta is very comparable to feta. For the most part, you can cook with ricotta the same as you would with feta.
- Herbed ricotta salad – mix thyme, oregano, and basil with ricotta. Add to any salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
- Baked ricotta spread – mix ricotta crumbs with lemon, garlic, chives, and olive oil. Bake on low heat for 10-15 minutes and serve with crackers or baguette slices.
Halloumi is another Greek cheese also made from sheep and goat milk. It is a semi-hard cheese.
A unique characteristic of halloumi is that is has a relatively high melting point. It is common for people to prepare halloumi by frying or grilling the cheese.
Most halloumi you can find in the store has high sodium levels. Cooking the cheese will get rid of the salty taste and give it a smooth, creamy texture.
Halloumi has a very similar taste to feta cheese. Typically people who think the taste of feta is too strong find halloumi easier on the palate. It also has a texture comparable to thick feta.
Halloumi has high levels of protein compared to other cheeses. It contains 22 grams of protein per every 100 grams. This makes it an excellent alternate source of protein for anyone avoiding meat.
- Grilled halloumi – cut halloumi slices between one quarter and one half inch thick. Grill over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.
- Fried halloumi bites – roll bite-sized chunks of halloumi in flour. Cook in an inch of oil using a small saucepan. Make sure to turn the bites around so they cook evenly.
- Halloumi skewers – put bite-sized pieces of halloumi on a skewer with chorizo and cherry tomatoes. Grill long enough to cook the chorizo.
Queso fresco is a Mexican cheese that’s also very comparable to feta. It’s worth mentioning that queso fresco is only available in certain parts of the United States. Typically the Southwestern US but if you can find a Mexican grocery store around the US, they might carry it.
Queso fresco directly translates to fresh cheese in Spanish. Some people might refer to it as queso blanco which means white cheese.
If you’re in Mexico, this cheese is ubiquitous. But be aware that queso fresco will taste different in Latin America than other regions. That’s because it’s made with raw milk. Due to concerns over bacteria, it’s pasteurised in most other countries.
Similar to feta, it also has high sodium so you might want to avoid queso fresco depending on your needs. But it does have more protein.
Queso fresco is a very natural substitute to use because it has the same crumbly texture. But unlike feta, it’s mild flavour isn’t as overpowered in your cooking.
- Queso fresco dip – mix queso fresco crumbs with diced tomatoes, cilantro, and red onion. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and mix in a packet of taco meat seasoning. Serve with tortilla chips.
- Cheese and corn salsa – add cubed queso fresco and an ear of corn kernels to a jar of salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.
Most fetas are made with at least some goats milk. Depending on who’s making it, the cheese is usually made of around 30% goats milk. This makes goat cheese, also called chèvre, a very logical substitute for feta cheese.
When you cook with chèvre, be aware of the vast range of goat cheeses. Some varieties are soft and easy to spread almost like cream cheese. Other variations of aged goat cheeses have an almost chalky texture that crumbles with ease.
Chèvre can be high in fats, but it has almost no carbohydrates and has a good amount of protein.
When cooking with chèvre, it’s crucial to know that it won’t melt the same as cow cheeses. Due to different protein complexes, it doesn’t have the same gooey characteristic. It will still melt, just don’t try to make chèvre mozzarella sticks.
- Chèvre and jam spread – put some apricot jam or marmalade in a bowl and heat in the microwave. Pour the jam or marmalade on top of a block of chèvre. Sprinkle chopped pistachios and thyme on top. Serve with fresh fruit.
- Honey crisp and goat cheese ladyfingers – spread softened chèvre on top of each ladyfinger. Place a thin honey crisp apple slice on top of the chèvre. Drizzle a small amount of honey on the apple slice and sprinkle chopped pecans and fresh rosemary on top.
Some people love the texture of fetas but find the taste to be a little too mild. If you want something with a bit more punch than you should try cotija cheese. Cotija or queso cincho is a hard cheese from the southern regions of Mexican.
It has a taste that’s close to parmesan but with sharper high notes. Its texture, although hard, is brittle and crumbly.
There are several variations of cotija. If you’re looking to substitute it for feta, make sure to buy Tajo cotija.
Much like halloumi, Cotija has a very high melting point. Due to the crumbly structure of cotija, you can’t grill cotija like you would halloumi.
- Cotija taco salad – cook ground beef with taco seasoning. Add in diced tomatoes and chopped red onions. Mix into a salad and sprinkle cotija crumbs on top. Serve in a taco bowl.
- Chorizo cotija and guacamole toast – spread guacamole on toast and top with chorizo and cotija. Sprinkle a small amount of minced cilantro. When making as an appetiser replace the bread with toasted baguette slices.
- Broiled asparagus with cotija – toss asparagus in olive oil with salt. Mix in some cotija and broil in a cooking sheet. After, add black pepper, lime wedges, and more cotija.
Roquefort is a form of blue cheese that originates in the South of France. It is also made from sheep’s milk and has a crumbly texture.
It is one of the more common variations of blue cheese and should be very easy to find.
Like most blue cheeses, it can be very pungent, and it carries a sharp, tangy flavour. If you love fetas but wish they had a stronger flavour than Roquefort is an ideal substitute for you.
Just keep in mind that blue cheeses aren’t always crowd pleasers. If cooking with Roquefort, use it in moderation or prepare it in a small dish without expectations that everyone will eat it. If you want to make it a little easier to stomach, pair it with something sweet to balance it out.
- Roquefort, honey, and pear crostini – lightly broil baguette slices in the oven. Place small pear slices on the bread, the add Roquefort crumbles and chopped walnuts on top. Drizzle honey over the Roquefort and add some fresh sage.
- Roquefort burgers – add Roquefort on top of the patties just before they finish cooking. Add caramelised onion, lettuce, and thin slices of apple and serve on a sesame seed bun.
Gorgonzola is another blue cheese. Gorgonzola is an Italian blue which comes from the province of gorgonzola. Compared to other varieties of blue cheese, Gorgonzola has a milder flavour. This makes it a perfect option if Roquefort is a little too strong for your tastes.
The flavour of gorgonzola grows stronger as it ages so if you’re looking for a softer taste make sure to use it when it’s fresh. If it’s still too strong, then you can use less gorgonzola than the amount of feta that the recipe calls for.
Gorgonzola has more calories and fat than feta cheese. But it also contains more protein and has less sodium and carbs. And when you consider that you’ll most likely use it in smaller concentrations than you would feta, it could be regarded as healthier.
- Stuffed gorgonzola olives – stuff seasoned, pitted olives with fresh gorgonzola. Serve with crackers, bread, or include in a Greek salad.
- Pear with prosciutto and gorgonzola – cut a few pears into pieces a quarter inch thick. Place a slice of gorgonzola on the pear and wrap in prosciutto. Use a toothpick to hold everything together.
A popular substitute for many animal products is tofu. Much like most animal-based proteins, tofu is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids. It also includes a large variety of vitamins and minerals.
The most common method of making tofu is to press condensed soy milk into blocks. The process for making tofu is actually very similar to the cheesemaking.
In Thai and Chinese cooking, tofu is often cooked to various temperatures to give it different textures. It is soft and squishy in its simplest form. And it can be crunchy and crisp if cooked with more heat. This gives it a high degree of versatility in your cooking.
Tofu is your best option if you’re a vegan or vegetarian who wants to replace feta. Even if you aren’t vegan, it’s a great substitute if you’re particularly health conscious.
The downside to using tofu as a feta substitute is that it has neither the texture nor the taste of the cheese. Unlike the other feta alternatives listed, you can’t easily transplant it into your recipes.
- Vegan tofu-feta cheese – Slice a block of tofu into small cubes. Marinade the tofu in water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and oregano. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. It may taste better if you prepare a day before the event to allow it to marinate fully. Use in any feta recipe like Greek salad that doesn’t require you to cook the cheese.
Feta cheese is great. It can be used in a variety of different ways to subtly enhance any dish. But it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to mix things up a bit. The world of cheese is vast and diverse. And if you look past the surface of popular cheeses, you might find something you like a lot more. At the very least, it’s good to know a few handy substitutes for when you can’t find feta in a pinch.