Tzafatit cheese is a delicious, salty, semi hard, decidedly Israeli cheese. It gets its name from its city of origin, Tzfat, in the north of Israel. The cheese was first produced in Meiri Dairy in 1840. The original recipe used goat’s milk, but cow’s milk Tzafatit cheese is now very common. There must be hundreds of Tzafatit cheeses in Israel, and somehow they all have a unique taste and texture.
Tzafatit cheese is somewhat like a feta, but with a higher water content. It is always sold in water, usually in the shape of a disc. I’ve noticed that among different brands, the fat content is usually the same, around 5%. It is moist, slightly chewy, slightly crumbly, with not very good meltability. Tzafatit cheese is a staple in Israeli breakfasts, where its salty fresh flavor pairs well with raw salads and smoked fish. It is also commonly used in sandwiches where it can be paired with tomatoes, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs and zaatar.
I love the flavor and texture of the cheese so much that usually I just eat it plain and it never has time to make it into a recipe! But, if I did happen to have extra Tzafatit cheese lying around, I would try this lentil salad.