When cheesy is good

There are plenty of dairy products on the market with reduced fat content and many of them are just as flavorful as their full-fat versions -- and then there are some cheeses that are naturally low in fat.
Anthotyro, for example, which is made from the whey of feta cheese, has only a 12-20 percent fat content, compared to 25-30 percent of fat for feta and 40-45 percent for yellow cheeses such as graviera and kasseri.
Other light traditional Greek cheeses include katiki, tsalafouti, galotyri and goat cheeses generally.
Anthotyro, with a Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC) is a variation of and similar to myzithra, made from sheep’s and goat’s milk. Katiki is a creamy white cheese made from goat’s milk or sometimes a combination of goat’s and sheep’s milk and has a salt content of just 1 percent. Soft and spreadable galotyri, one of the oldest traditional cheeses in Greece with a Controlled Denomination of Origin, has a fat content of 13.8 percent.
Goat and sheep’s milk products are often thought of as healthier than those made from cow’s milk. Although they have the same amount of lactose as cow’s milk, the different fermentation process reduces the amount of lactose in the cheeses.
It is also thought that goat’s milk is more easily digested than cow’s milk, mainly because goat’s milk does not contain the same levels of the protein casein as cow’s milk does.
Below are three recipes by Dina Nikolaou for light and deliciously cheesy dishes.


Zucchini, katiki and dill tart

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
For the pastry
250 gr all-purpose flour
1000 ml olive oil and 1 tbsp for the tart base
50 ml milk
1 egg, preferably organic, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried crushed oregano
For the filling
4 fairly large zucchinis, grated

Leaves of one bunch rocket, finely chopped
250 gr strained yogurt
300 gr katiki Domokou or tsalafouti
2 eggs, preferably organic
Leaves and soft stalks of half a bunch of dill, finely chopped
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper


Sift the flour into a baking dish and add the olive oil. Knead them together with your fingers until a loose dough is formed. Add the milk, egg, oregano and salt and knead until smooth. Don’t overmix it.
Mold the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Squeeze out most of the liquid from the grated zucchinis with your hands. Beat the eggs and yogurt together in a bowl and add the katiki or tsalafouti, beating continually. Add the zucchini, rocket, dill, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Grease a round 28 cm pie dish or a rectangular one and spread out the dough with your fingers, covering the bottom and sides. Pierce it with a fork in several places and then add the filling.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. If the top browns earlier, cover the tart with greaseproof paper until the time is up.

Light cheese pie with mint

Ingredients (serves 8)

12 sheets shortcrust pastry (about one packet)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

For the filling:

250 gr anthotyro
250 gr katiki Domokou
250 gr low-fat white goat’s cheese (there are several of these sold packaged in supermarkets)
1 egg, preferably organic, plus 1 egg white for the filling and 1 egg yolk to baste with
1 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
or 2 tbsp dried mint
1 tsp sweet paprika
Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, break up the cheeses with a fork and add the whole egg and the white, the paprika, mint and a little salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Brush a round or rectangular (26-38 cm) pie tin with the oil and lay three sheets of pastry, basting each one with oil.
Divide the filling into three equal portions. Spread the one portion over the three layers in the dish and cover with three more, basting each one with oil. Continue the process until all the filling and all the pastry layers are used up, finishing with pastry.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Baste the top of the pie with oil. Beat the yolk lightly with a teaspoon of water and baste the top of the pie with it. Make shallow cuts in the top of the pastry to form squares and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for an hour.

Baked eggplant with cheese

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 large eggplants, cut in 1 cm slices
4 tbsp olive oil for the eggplant plus 2 for the sauce
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
300 gr low-fat goat’s cheese, grated
1 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
or 1/5 tsp dried basil
Salt & pepper

Put the eggplant slices in a colander, salt well and leave for at least half an hour until they sweat, to remove the bitterness. It will also prevent them from absorbing too much oil while cooking.

Rinse with cold water, dry with kitchen paper and lay on a baking tray. Brush the slices on both sides with the olive oil and grill on the highest shelf in the oven for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.
Heat the onion and garlic in 2-3 tablespoons of water in a large frying pan, add the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of oil and stir.
Add the oregano and thyme, season and simmer (at 3 on a scale of 1-9 or at 1 on a scale of 1-3) for about six minutes or until the sauce thickens a little. Remove from the hob and add the fresh herbs (parsley, basil).
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Lightly oil a deep baking dish (about 30x22 cm), add a layer of eggplant and sprinkle with half the cheese. Then add a layer of sauce, continue with the rest of the eggplant slices and then the rest of the cheese. Add the rest of the sauce and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

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