Traditional Cheeses In Lebanon
So you though the French had the monopoly on cheeses? Well as it turns out, the Lebanese are pretty well known for their dairy products and here’s why. Just like the whole country’s culture, their traditional cheeses originate from all over the world.
Halloumi is a Cypriot mozzarella-like cheese (in texture) made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk. It can be eaten raw with veggies and herbs, some people even put it in sandwiches. However if you really want to unleash the full flavor and texture of Halloumi, you’re going to have to grill it. Doing so gives it a golden color and a crispy feel on the outside, while it stays tender on the inside. In this form, it is used in salads, sandwiches or even consumed with mint, tomatoes and cucumbers.
A cheese common to many Eastern-European countries, Kashkaval made its way into the Lebanese food repertoire a very long time ago. It is a yellow cheese made of sheep’s or cow’s milk and it is delicious! It can be grated, sliced or cut in cubes and goes with everything, from salads to more elaborate dishes like Kashkaval & Olive Salmon Steak. One of the advantages of using it in cooking is that it melts very easily, making it practical for pasta, pizza, sandwiches; and a great topping for any dish!
OK so this one is strictly Greek, but it definitely has a role to play in Lebanese food. Take the Rekakat for example. These delicious bites are made of filo pastry stuffed with feta cheese and thyme. They’re considered a staple in the Lebanese mezze and are simply amazing. It is also a great addition to pumpkin soup and goes surprisingly well with grilled eggplant, especially if you plan on putting them on mini toasts…yum!
This one is even called Bulgarian! But yes it is also part of the traditionally used Lebanese cheeses. It is a fundamental part of Lebanese breakfasts and refreshing addition to any mezze. Made from either cow’s or sheep’s milk, it is usually conserved in brine, otherwise it can’t last. It is not to be heated like the cheeses mentioned above but it’s a great companion for cold entrées and veggies. Wrap all of that in Lebanese pita bread and thank us later!
Of course, the Lebanese also enjoy a variety of processed cheeses for all kinds of uses, but the ones we mentioned above are the main traditional varieties. Have you ever tried any of them? Tell us about it in the comments!