Light and creamy Mexican panela cheese is marinated with lots of herbs and spices to created this fabulous appetizer, you’ll never want to taste another! It’s perfect for a party or to indulge with a glass of red wine.
(recipe updated 10 October 2017)
Have you ever cooked something that just surprised you with how utterly scrumptious it was? This was the case when I prepared this cheese.
I love cheese so much, and as pleasant as it is to sit down to eat a serving French style (as in un plateau de fromages) I love eating it all sorts of ways. Baked cheese can be such a fun and delicious experience, wouldn’t you agree?
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Panela cheese is a Mexican firm, fresh cheese that is fantastic for baking, grilling, and frying. You can find it in the Latin food section of most grocery stores. If not you can look for queso blanco, queso fresco, or in a pinch even use feta — really any fresh cheese that doesn’t melt but only softens when heated. The first time I came across a recipe for baked panela cheese was in one of my favourite fiction novels “The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo“ by F. G. Haghenbeck. The recipe is an actual one written and cooked by Frida Khalo — isn’t that cool! It was absolutely delicious, but I started playing with the recipe and it evolved into the herby and spiced version I am sharing with you today.
The first time I prepared this baked cheese for my husband he declared it to be “one of the very BEST foods I have ever cooked!” And still to this day he repeats the same thing. I love him! I will also have to agree on how amazingly delectable this baked cheese is. If it wasn’t such an indulgent dish I would prepare it more often, that’s okay because it’s a great treat for us when we do eat it. It’s great to enjoy alongside some wine, as an appetiser, and it would be excellent at your Christmas and New Years parties.
- 200g or 7oz panela cheese
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic*
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped white onion*
- 1 tsp. red chile flakes
- 2 tsp. dried parsley
- ½ tsp. to 1 tsp. thyme
- ½ tsp. to 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
- ½ tsp. mustard seeds
- ½ tsp. ground red chile or sweet paprika
- 2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
- bowl, spoon and plastic wrap
- ovensafe baking dish (I used small tapas cazuela likethese)
- Drain the cheese and set aside. In a bowl combine the oil and all of the herbs and spices. Poke little holes all around the cheese to help the seasoning absorb better. Place the cheese in with the oil and spices mixture and coat the cheese, cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight if desired.
- Preheat the oven to 190℃ or 375°F for 10 minutes. Place the cheese in the oven-safe dish and bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes. The cheese will become soft and gooey but not melt completely. Allow to cool slightly and serve with either corn chips or country bread or any rustic bread. As the cheese cools it will firm up again, so try to keep warm when enjoying.
** If you're not huge on herbs go with the lower measurements or adjust amounts to your taste.