What might characterize our family meals in Greece is the variety of dishes served. Housewives rarely cook only one dish for the family and, even when they do, three or more side dishes are usually served as well. We love little bites of this and that, what we call mezedes; they are most often cheese, olives, pickles, all sorts of savory spreads,and flaky pies with fillings that vary according to the season of the year. Preparing them at home demands some effort but they cost less and offer flavorful snacksevery day.
Meze bites are also served when you want to have a snack with your wine, beer or ouzo but not eat an actual meal. In Greece there are restaurants that serve only meze dishes from an endless list; these places are called ‘’mezedopolia’’ (μεζεδοπωλεία).
Feta balls are a wonderful meze to prepare ahead and can be served straight from the jar to the table or spread on slices of bread. Toasting the bread with feta under the grill for a few minutes provides a filling and impressive warm meze.
Makes about 20 bite size balls
150gr crushed feta
150gr fresh mizithra* or ricotta cheese
1tbsp finely chopped sundried tomatoes
1tbsp chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
250gr olive oil, or enough to cover the feta balls in the jar
Fresh or dry oregano
Dry chili pepper flakes (optional)
In a bowl place feta, mizithra or ricotta, sun dried tomatoes,dill, salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spatula until combined.
Pour the olive oil in the jar, add the oregano and chili flakes and mix with a spoon to combine.
Form bite-size balls from the feta mixture and place them in the jar with the aromatic olive oil. Let them stand for a few hours before you serve them so the flavors combine. You can store these feta balls in the fridge for 3 weeks.
*Mizithra is made from raw, whole sheep or goat milk in the simplest way possible: milk is brought to a slow boil for a few minutes and then curdled by adding rennet or whey from a previous batch), or simply something acidic, e.g. lemon juice or vinegar. As soon as the curds have formed, they are poured into a cheesecloth bag which is hung to drain. After a few days, mizithra has formed into a soft mass which is sweet and moist, and has been moulded in the shape of the hanging bag At this stage it is called "sweet" or "fresh mizithra" and may be used as is. Otherwise it is rubbed with coarse salt and left to age even more. It can ultimately turn into a very dense, hard, white cheese that is suitable for fine grating. In Greek cuisine, it is the most common and favourite cheese for pasta.