Feta, the stuff of myth and legend, has been a hot commodity since Byzantine Greece, first appearing in written record in Homer’s Odyssey. Loosely described as curdled sheep’s milk, it was the Cyclops that began what could be considered the first cottage industry business out of his cave.
Not to discount the early efforts of an innovative entrepreneur, I just can’t help but think it’s high time to stop following the herd. Over 6,000 years later, we ought to collectively crawl out from under that rock and start a new narrative for feta. No more sheep, no more strife.
Celebrating a robust 50-year heritage, Follow Your Heart may not have quite the same storied lineage, but they’re certainly out there making history. Introducing the very first dairy-free crumbled feta on the modern market, the “alternative” is one so good, it’s really impossible to justify traditional methods.
Firm, squeaky curds, briny and and slightly sour, like buttery unsweetened yogurt, they’re good enough to Greek out about. Each package contains diverse proportions of gleaming white morsels, ranging from nuggets the size of marbles to tiny specks akin to sea salt or coarsely ground pepper. This varied consistency is ideal for most applications; the smaller pieces evenly coat the vegetables, grains, or proteins in the mix, while the heftier chunks stand out for bold bites of concentrated cheesy flavor.
It’s a good thing there’s such a wide range of particle sizes, including such a fine spray that defies roving fingers, because it would otherwise be too tempting to simply eat out of hand.
This feta was born to be used in recipes, and not just salads, either. Blending Greek origins with Italian inspiration, it’s right at home in pillowy soft planks of fresh baked focaccia. Here, it gets mixed into the dough itself to infuse that distinctive umami flavor throughout, with more sprinkled directly on top for an irresistible browned surface. Nothing more is needed to dress up such a simple but bold bread, though it would be pretty incredible sliced in half and filled with your favorite sandwich fixings.
Soft, tender, and buttery slabs of flat bread would be hard enough to resist, but when each slice has morsels of compellingly salty feta embedded into every bite, no amount of willpower stands a chance. Give in and take a big bite; as your teeth sink into the crisp, caramelized crust, pushing past toasted garlic and aromatic herbs, you’ll wonder why you don’t bake bread everyday. That is, until you polish off a pan in record time, perhaps. It might be dangerous to make a regular habit. The feta is both the cherry on top, and part of the essential foundation. No other cheese will do, and certainly not one made from conventional dairy.
Follow your heart, mind, and stomach to a better feta. This will go down in history as yet another innovation that makes milk moot.
- 2 1/2 Cups Warm Water
- 2 1/4 Teaspoons (1 Packet) Active Dry Yeast
- 2 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar
- 5 - 5 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil, Divided
- 1 (6 Ounce) Package Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Feta Crumbles, Divided
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary, Roughly Chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- Place the warm water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast reawakens and becomes frothy and bubbly. Add in the first 5 cups of flour, salt, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
- Using the dough hook attachment, begin mixing at low speed, until everything is combined. This is a very wet, sticky dough, so add more flour sparingly, if at all. Introduce 4.5 ounces of the feta, and continue mixing for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, warm draft-free place until doubled in size; about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Begin preheating your oven to 400 degrees when the first rise is almost complete. Coat a 12 x 17-inch sheet pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
- Gently press the air bubbles out of the dough before transferring it to your prepared pan. Coat the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and use your hands to stretch and press it out to evenly, all the way out to the edges. If it fights you and tries to spring back, let it rest for a few more minutes before trying to stretch it again.
- Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 1.5 ounces of feta, minced garlic, rosemary, thyme and black pepper. Let it rest and rise for a second time while the oven finishes heating. My oven is a bit slow, but plan on approximately 30 minutes.
- Use your finger tips to press dimples into the dough all across the surface, right before sliding it into the oven.
- Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown all over. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or toasted.
Leftover focaccia can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days, or frozen for up to 4 months. To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight, and then toast lightly at 400 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes, until warmed through and crispy around the edges.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 757Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 147gFiber: 5gSugar: 1gProtein: 20g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.