marinated beyaz peynir (turkish white cheese)

marinated Turkish white cheese - beyaz peynir
There are lots of Turkish and Cypriot shops near where I live in north London. A comparative recent discovery is cans of cheese. Yes, you heard correctly - a can of cheese. This is "beyaz peynir" (which in Turkish means "white cheese"); a salty, dense cheese made from unpasteurized sheep milk, very similar in taste and texture to Greek feta cheese. Actually I would defy you to tell the difference. Perhaps feta is a little more tangy and beyaz peynir is firmer and a little creamy.

The cans often carry two rounds of cheese in brine, a definite bargain for the thrifty, such as me, who like to cook and entertain. This cheese, so similar to feta, works brilliantly in a whole host of different dishes from salads to mezze. It can be stuffed in borek (little mouthfuls of cheese with either spinach or honey and nuts) or in pie with filo pastry. It is fabulous in a grilled sandwich with say courgettes and herbs and really good roasted with vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes with olive oil.

A trip to Heathcliffe's last week and his mezze feast experience gave me his version of marinated white cheese. I've marinated feta before, but I can safely say that H's version was absolutely delicious.

Skill level: Easy

2 x rounds of beyaz peynir cheese (about 200-250g each), drained, cut into bite-sized cubes
extra-virgin olive oil (about 200-300 ml)
1 x garlic clove, very finely sliced
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest, cut into thin strips or finely grated
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp red chilli, very finely chopped (optional)
½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
1 - 2 fresh thyme sprigs (or oregano)

  1. Sterilise a preserving jar in the usual way. (I wash mine in warm, soapy water and then rinse well. The jars (and lids) then go into a saucepan of boiling water for about 10 minutes. They are then placed on a baking tray and placed in a "very slow" oven (preheated to about 110C / Gas Mark ¼) and allowed to warm through until they are dry. This ensures that there are no microbes and other nasties which could ruin your marinating cheese.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, zest and herbs and spices if using. There is no need to add salt since the cheese will be quite salty.
  3. Place the cheese bites into the preserving jar and cover with the marinade.
  4. Seal the jar and leave for at least 48 hours for the flavours to get to know each other.

  • Will stay fresh for about 1 month if stored in the fridge.


heathcliffe said...

Hey. You totally sneaked the chilli and cumin into my recipe. I know that's your doing because I wish i'd thought of it. Flecks of chilli red and olive-oil soaked spice dust against the pure white cheese would look superb. From now on I'm gonna do that and totally pretend that I invented it.


As an aside, this seems to keep for about a week. It needs a clear day to marinate the flavours in. But its a trade off. Make the flavours kick and its great after a day. But too strong after a week. Make it mild and its better for longer but worth leaving out of the fridge to get the flavours started.

I have done it with a drizzle of honey, and that rocks. But you gave me the idea for that when you did blue cheese bruschetta. Something we need to do again soon. :)

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Argh! I'm busted! But seriously I wasn't sure whether it did have chilli in it or not since I wasn't taking tasting notes AND I was drinking lots of wine and (if I remember rightly) very strong mead!

So I got a little creative with your recipe . . . but it is optional!

When oh when are we having a party again . . . I think it's our forte!