May 13, 2016
Vol. VIII No. 10
Special Announcement!

You are invited to @OldwaysPT 's #MedDietMonth Twitter party on Thursday, May 19 at 1pm ET.

Click on the image (left) to learn more. 

Two Italian mozzarella-style cheeses: Pugliese Breccia and Giuncata.
Fresh Mediterranean Cheeses
Soft, tangy, and milky white, fresh cheeses are the darlings of the cheese world. Some, such as fresh mozzarella, are so young that they barely have time to develop flavors beyond the subtleties of the milk used to make them. Others, such as feta, have more pronounced flavor thanks to added salt and other seasoning. On the whole, fresh cheeses are recognized for their versatility in the kitchen. 

Virtually every region around the Mediterranean has its own form of fresh cheese, made from local milk and varying slightly from place to place. Quite a few cheeses are made from whey (the watery part of milk that remains after the formation of cheese curds), making use of the "waste" product from other cheeses. 

Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy fresh Mediterranean cheeses:

All by themselves. Enjoy a couple slices plain or dress them up with a little olive oil, fresh fruit, or honey for a satisfying snack. 
a semi-hard fresh cheese from Cyprus, is best served simply sliced and grilled. 


In savory fillings. Greeks are famous for their savory pies (e.g. spanakopita) filled with greens, herbs, and fresh cheeses like feta and the cheese made from its whey, manouri. Likewise, in Italy, what cheese tortellini or ravioli would be complete without ricotta? Ricotta is sweet, smooth, and is made from the whey that's drained off in the production of mozzarella and other cheeses.

For breakfast. Found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, labane (or labne or labanah) is a "yogurt cheese" made by draining thick, full-fat yogurt overnight in cloth. It's similar to Greek yogurt - velvety and slightly sour - and traditionally eaten at breakfast served with olive oil, fresh herbs, and pita bread. Try using it as a substitute for cream cheese too.

In saladsFeta is a favorite salad cheese because it adds a nice tang that is quick to complement other ingredients, from earthy beets to light and peppery arugula. 


For texture. Add fresh cheeses to hot dishes - at the last moment, to avoid curdling - to give them a richer flavor and creamier texture. Mascarpone, a velvety smooth Italian "tub cheese" typically used to make tiramisu, can also add creaminess to savory dishes like risotto. A couple of spoonfuls go a long way.


Cheese, eaten in moderation and in the context of a Mediterranean diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and nuts, is a healthy and nutritious food. For more information about the health benefits of cheese, visit the Oldways Cheese Coalition's website. Fresh cheeses fit in especially well with the Mediterranean diet because they pair so well with other healthy foods. 

For example, an entire meal can be made from oven-roasted vegetables, a piece of burrata (the creamy cousin of mozzarella), and a hunk of whole grain bread. This time of year, fresh cheeses taste wonderful with seasonal spring ingredients like fresh fava beans, peas, artichokes, asparagus, and tender salad greens. Read on to the recipes below for more delicious pairings.

Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe.

Tyropitas are savory Greek cheese pies made with paper-thin phyllo dough. In this recipe, they are stuffed with feta cheese, whole milk ricotta cheese, and parsley. Simple, crowd-pleasing ingredients make them perfect appetizers or snacks. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of Grecian Delight

Feta cheese, oregano, zucchini, and kalamata olives are traditional Greek ingredients that work wonderfully in lasagna. Ricotta cheese still makes its way into this recipe too. Don't worry about the number of servings; leftovers freeze and reheat very well.

An Oldways recipe.

Sometimes sorghum is called milo, and sometimes milo is called sorghum. Whatever you call it, Jesse Cool's milo salad is a fresh, clean, and delicious dish. Tangy feta cheese balances the other flavors of this ancient whole grain salad.

Recipe courtesy of Jesse Cool for The Oldways Table. Oldways photo.

by Tenaya Darlington
Peek behind Philadelphia's largest and oldest cheese counter for a lively guide to pairing cheese with everything from beer and cocktails to olives and charcuterie. Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese draws on stories and knowledge from the store's third-generation owners.
by Juliet Harbutt
Written by a team of experts, each writing about their own region, World Cheese Book is a treasure trove of information for the truly adventurous cheese lover and a complete guide to the world of cheese. It tours the finest cheese-producing countries and reveals local traditions and artisanal processes.
by Chester Hastings
Savor a year of outstanding cheese-centric dishes with this beautifully-photographed book. Chef Chester Hastings shares how to match peak-season produce with fine cheeses to create inspired takes on classics as well as imaginative new flavor combinations.

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.   

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit: