Pan-fried cheese with mushrooms: tasty with no added oil

     

    Pan-fried cheese with mushrooms

     

    Time:        prep. 5 mins
                      cook. 15 mins tot
    Difficulty: very easy
    Yields:      2 portions
    Cost:         low

     

    Mediterranean style pan-fried cheese is a recipe for those who want to win easy: it requires very little time to spend in the kitchen to obtain a dish that nourishes the body and satisfies the palate.
    My need to tell you about this recipe has no less than two reasons: the first is related to the desire to taste typical and local flavors; for example, where I am now (Crotone, South Italy) the grocery stores overflow with Provola (or Provolone which is bigger), the typical stringy cheese with a curious shape which remembers an elongated pear. Similarly in Greek Islands we find Halloumi (Hellim as they call it in Turkiye). They are all tasty and truly Mediterranean.
    The second reason is the need to prepare very handy meals: the quicker the better; in fact, few things can rival pan-fried cheese in terms of convenience. And the precise period I am living in demands that I use all the weapons at my disposal to feed us efficiently: my stay in South Italy has nothing to do with a holiday, and in due course I will tell you about the adventure that have brought us, my husband Giampaolo and me, to this fantastic land, all waiting to be discovered; at the moment, suffice it to say that all day long I am out of the house (we rented an apartment, of course with a fully equipped kitchen), which is why when I return in the evening I am incredibly tired… those who do physical work certainly know what I am talking about.
    Therefore I must use my energy very cleverly by making the most of the time stolen from my rest.
    And lo and behold, this Italian local stretched-curd provola cheese has convinced us both promises.
    They say its name comes from “prova – a test,” as in ancient times a test of the cheese was made precisely to check its state of stringiness.
    As a preparation you can call it a seasoned mozzarella, and at will it can be smoked by exposing it to straw smoke for about ten minutes. Tasting both versions, I can say that my favorite is definitely the smoked one.
    In the same way Halloumi is a cheese which is similar to mozzarella (but more chewy), made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, and sometimes it contains also cow’s milk. Saganaki is a little bit different in texture, it is made with a harder cheese, normally Kefalotyri (sepet peynir in Turkiye), but it is really to heavy for me.
    The choice of combining pan fried cheese of any type, with mushrooms lies in making this sumptuous meal a bit more sustainable: although very nutritious, tasty and even local, one should not overdo with the consumption of cheeses, provola or halloumi included; agreed it is handy and tasty, but milk production, even if it is derived from organic or grass-fed livestock, can still hide a high environmental impact (you can read more about it here).
    So let’s use pan fried cheese to enrich the meal, but let’s do so in such a way that it is not the absolute protagonist. And to increase the protein content in the dish, let’s abound with foods that are not animal-sourced. Splitting evil in half is always a winning strategy for reducing our footprint on the planet, as well as keeping the amount of fat consumption at bay: at about 30 percent fat, pan fried cheese can be easy to cook but really difficult to digest.
    For this I recommend oyster mushrooms as an enrichment of the dish; besides the very intense flavor (and very similar to the taste of meat) they are also very rich in nutrients; plus they cost a pittance; and therefore a perfect option for the CHEtarian diet.
     

    Ingredients for pan fried cheese with mushrooms

    160 g provola or Halloumi cheese
    300 g mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms, but you can use what you have at home)
    1 tablespoon of evo oil
    1 clove of garlic (crush it 10 minutes before using it: to discover why, read here)
    a pinch of thyme or oregano
    chili pepper (optional, but to recreate the Calabrian atmosphere it is highly recommended)
     

    Directions

    I mentioned it before, this is a quick recipe with a sure, fool-proof result.
    Start the procedure by washing under running water, quickly, the mushrooms previously cleaned of their stems and harder parts. If you want to use halloumi please soak it in water for at least an hour to remove excess salt.
    In a frying pan put 1 tablespoon of evo oil, crushed garlic and oyster mushrooms, cooking them for about 8 minutes, until soft and fragrant. After that, move the cooked mushrooms to a serving dish.
    In the same pan (it should be very hot), add the slices of provola or halloumi about 1 cm high: since it is very fatty, it does not require further addition of oil; in any case there will be just enough residual oil left from the mushrooms to melt it without burning.
    As soon as the provola begins to melt, turn the slice over.
    After about 5 minutes the pan fried cheese will be ready to be combined with the still hot mushrooms.
    Sprinkle a little thyme or oregano over the top and garnish with a few pieces of chili pepper; if you prefer also some black pepper (I would have added it without a doubt, but unfortunately I did not have pepper with me).
     

    Smart combos

    Pan fried cheese with oyster mushrooms is high in fat and protein; mushrooms help to increase dietary fiber; and when dishes are high in saturated fat, the more fiber and vitamins the meal contains, the better is the result; consequently fresh salads like this one with purslane and figs and/or tasty vegetables like sea beans are great ideas to pair.

    Enjoy your Mediterranean style pan fried cheese and good revolution to all

     

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