This spread is really good! It is similar to the Roman dish Moretum (Goat Cheese with Herbs) in that a cheese is flavored with garlic, salt and olive oil. Though this Middle Eastern spread is with out spices, that does not detract from the great flavor! If you like garlic, add a little more. If you are more vamperic add a little less.
(Flavored Dry Cheese)
Take as much cheese as you like. Cut off the rind and, using a grater (iskirfaj), reduce the cheese to powder. Next, put it in the mortar with garlic and salt, then dissolve it in hot water and mix well. Finally, pour some good olive oil on it. Eat with the blessing of God. Then, with the will of god, add walnuts that have been shelled and ground up in the mortar.
Zaouali, pp. 109
½ lb goat cheese 1 tsp salt 3-4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 Tbs olive oil 1/3 C. crushed walnuts
The recipe calls for a cheese with a rind. I have not found any Middle Eastern grocery stores that carry such a cheese and I’m not 100% sure that Parmesan would work so I had to compromise a little. I took a good soft goat cheese at room temperature and worked the cheese over with a fork, till a more crumbled look was achieved.
I then added the salt and the garlic to the cheese. Now here I wasn’t sure if the water was to moisten the “powdered” cheese for a better texture, so at this point since the goat cheese I was using was already moist I skipped adding the hot water.
The 2 Tbs of olive oil were added next and everything was given a good stir till well mixed.
The first round of this cheese I did not add the walnuts. This is, in my opinion, an optional step. The cheese tastes great with or with out. With out is a really nice sharp garlic and salt; with adds a nice nutty flavoring to the garlic to mellow out the bite just a little.