Middle Eastern Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Feta and za’atar combine for a tasty grilled cheese that’s out of this world.

Middle Eastern Grilled Cheese

Although the cuisine of the Middle East is not known for their cheese culture, there are a couple that factor heavily. One is a soft cheese called labneh, which is made from straining yogurt until it is the consistency of cream cheese. It’s used in both sweet and savory dishes. The other is feta cheese, popular throughout the entire Mediterranean.

Feta is a briny cheese, so it’s perfect for adding a salty note to salads and other savory recipes. And it does make a great grilled cheese sandwich, which is what I’m going to share with you today.

I love to marinate my feta in olive oil and spices. Dried thyme is a classic but za’atar goes one better. This classic Middle Eastern spice is a blend of salt, sesame seeds, dried sumac berries and thyme, and it’s wonderful on almost every savory dish you can think of.Za’atar

When I buy a block of fresh feta, I cut it into cubes and add it to a jar of olive oil and za’atar. Stashed in the fridge, it’s great to add to salads, pizzas, pastas and, in this case, a sandwich.

Feta Cheese

The tomato in this sandwich is optional but always a welcome addition to grilled cheese, and it’s also the most commonly used vegetable in Middle Eastern food. Soft pita or naan bread gets wonderfully crispy, which is delightful against the warm cheese, olive oil and spices.

Total winner.

Middle Eastern Grilled Cheese

Yield: 1 sandwich

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ½ tomato, sliced
  • 1 soft pita round (can also use naan)
  • 2 oz. olive oil-marinated feta cheese
  • Pinch of za’atar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. To assemble the sandwich, add the tomato slices to half of the pita, top with the feta cheese, sprinkle on the za’atar and fold over the other half of the pita.
  3. Put sandwich on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip sandwich over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Anita Schecter

Anita is the voice behind the blog, Hungry Couple. She’s a writer, photographer, recipe developer, cook, bottle washer, shaker of creative cocktails and doggie mama. Anita also writes a monthly food column for Parade Magazine and is the on-staff Middle Eastern cuisine expert at About.com Food. She’s been known to eat salad with her fingers.