One of the first things one should know about the Bulgarian cuisine is that yogurt and white brine cheese, called sirene, are present in almost every second recipe. They are added as condiments in many salads, starters, main dishes and even desserts. And then you have simple dishes containing cheese as a main ingredient, like these one.
I’m writing this with a smile on my face and feel a little like cheating when using words such as “dish” and “recipe”, simply because the following dish is so simple that you can write the recipe and preparation method in one or two sentences. But as I think about it there are so many Bulgaria dishes that are indeed so incredibly simple, and that is one of the distinctive traits of the Bulgarian cuisine.
It is really delicious and we make it very often in the summer, as it’s ready just in few minutes. Depending on the size of the parcels, you can serve it as an appetizer or as a light dinner along with a bowl of vegetable salad.
As with all simple recipes, it’s extremely important to use heist quality ingredients you can get. In this case you’ll need hard (read matured) Bulgarian white brine cheese. We will not be offended if you live very far away from any type of Bulgarian cheeses and use feta type of cheese as a substitute.
As with the most traditional dishes, there are countless variations in ingredients and techniques – some add sweet red pepper rings, some butter, paprika or hot pepper flakes. Some sources recommend wetting the parchment paper before baking, but this is not necessarily if you use quality paper. The following is the basic recipe, so you can personalize and upgrade it according to your taste.
Prep and baking time: 15-20 minutes
300g hard white brine cheese
one large ripe tomato, sliced
some fresh herbs – basil, savory or thyme
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Cut four large squares of parchment paper. Carefully cut the cheese in 4 equal slices, around 1 cm thick and arrange each in the center of the paper square. Place one or two tomato slices on top of the cheese and top with the herbs – few leaves will be enough. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Carefully fold the parchment paper over the ingredients, making the parcels tide enough but being careful not to break the cheese. Arrange them (ends of the paper facing down) in a shallow baking dish or a baking sheet and using a sharp knife cut a small X over the top of every parcel.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. I needed to prepare it two times in order to choose the right baking time for us, as there is no way to see what’s going in inside the parcels.
Serve warm in the paper or unfold over a slice of fresh bread.