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Feta parcels are a food that involves wrapping feta cheese — sometimes with other ingredients — in a type of packet and then cooking it in some way. There are different ways to make the wrapper for feta parcels, but phyllo dough is one of the most commonly seen. The cooking process cooks the parcel and causes all of the ingredients, including the feta, to meld together and exchange flavors. Some of the classic contents of feta parcels are spinach, beet root and ground meats. Although baking is the traditional method of cooking such a parcel, some also can be deep fried or grilled, depending on the type of wrapper.
The most noticeable visual element of feta parcels is the wrapper that holds the cheese and other ingredients inside. Phyllo dough is often used, creating a flaky crust with a buttery flavor that bakes into a crisp shell. Puff pastry also can be used to give the parcel more depth, especially around ingredients that could exude a large amount of liquid. Emulating a French cooking technique, the walls of the parcel could be an aluminum foil or parchment shell that is opened dramatically when served. In some recipes, the parcel can even be slices of vegetables.
Feta cheese is the prime ingredient in feta parcels and largely helps to determine what the remaining contents should be. The cheese is brined during the cheesemaking process, giving the final product a salty flavor and a distinctive sharp and sour taste. It is used frequently in Greek and Mediterranean cooking, so many parcels use ingredients that are native to that region to help draw out the flavor. During cooking, the feta melts smoothly and can help to conduct heat to the rest of the parcel’s contents.
Aside from the cheese, feta parcels can be filled with a variety of ingredients. Spinach, rosemary and feta are a popular combination that resembles another Greek dish, especially when wrapped in phyllo dough. Another combination is feta, tomatoes, a basil leaf and an olive. More complex parcels can contain cooked, ground lamb with diced onions and leafy greens. A unique version of the dish involves wrapping feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil and garlic in thin slices of eggplant that have been folded into a bundle.
There are many parts of making feta parcels that can be improvised, changed or omitted. Two elements that are vital, however, are the parcel and the inclusion of feta cheese. The defining piece of the dish is that the ingredients must be contained inside some type of wrapper. Regardless of what kind of parcel is used, presentation adds to the dining experience.
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