Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Curd Cheese with Onion, Paprika, and Pumpkin Seed Oil

This simple but unusual appetizer combines three Slovenian favorites: curd cheese, paprika, and pumpkin seed oil.

I adapted it from a recipe in Janez Bogataj's The Food and Cooking of Slovenia. He calls it Curd Cheese with Onion or Koroška skuta s čebulo.  It is a specialty of Koroška (or Carinthia), a region on the Austrian-Slovenian border that is well-known as a producer of pumpkin seed oil.

Since I wanted to make a salt-free version, I increased the paprika and pepper and added a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top.

Traditionally, this tasty-sounding combination is served as a spread on rye bread.  But I had another plan. I wanted to use salt-free curd cheese as a substitute for feta in salads. I worried that my unadorned homemade curd cheese might be a little bland.  I hoped this flavor combination might give it just the right boost.

I made a batch of homemade curd cheese and pressed it overnight to make a firm round. The next day, I cut it into cubes and followed the recipe below.

For the result, read on.


Curd Cheese with Onion, Paprika, and Pumpkin Seed Oil (adapted from Janez Bogataj)

1 cup/ 8 oz curd cheese or farmer cheese, homemade or store-bought, salt-free
1 t. paprika
1/2 onion, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
(salt, if desired, to taste)
1 T. pumpkin seed oil
pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)

For a smooth spread, crumble the curd cheese in a bowl.  To use in a salad or other dish, cut cheese into cubes.

Sprinkle the cheese with onion, paprika, black pepper (and salt, if using.)  For a spread, mash and blend with a spoon.  Or, to retain the shape of the cubes (as I did), just toss the ingredients lightly. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil.

The verdict?

This does makes a lovely spread on rye bread or whole grain crackers, especially with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top.  But it also worked beautifully in my salt-free version of Kasha Mediterranean Salad.  For the recipe, see the next post.

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