My colleague Tara Wigley is feta’s all-time number one fan, and whenever possible adds it to every food group going.
‘Everything’s better with feta’ is often said in jest (and with an East End twang to make it rhyme nicely) but, in retrospect, feta really does seem to be our go-to cheese at the test kitchen, and for good reason: the tangy, creamy, salty elements that make it unique are often just what are required when finishing a salad or folding a scone mix. We make many efforts to diverge and expand, of course, but it’s safe to say that feta has made its mark on many of my past recipes. Today, it gets star billing.
Smoky marinated feta (above)
I’ve recently been keeping a jar of this in my fridge, and find myself returning to it for breakfast (on toast with sliced avocado), supper (over baked potato with egg and chopped salad) or for a sneaky, pre-bed snack (with a glass of wine). It will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Marinate 2 hr-plus
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 lemons – zest finely shaved into 8 strips, and juiced, to get 1½ tbsp
4 bay leaves
2½ tsp chipotle chilli flakes
1½ tsp paprika
250ml olive oil
1 tsp flaked sea salt
2 blocks Greek feta (360g), cut into 2cm cubes
Put a small saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once very hot, add the garlic and cook for about three to four minutes, turning halfway, until charred on the outside. Add the lemon and bay leaves, cook for 90 seconds more, then add the chipotle and cook, stirring continuously, for about 30 seconds, until well toasted and fragrant. Off the heat, stir in the paprika, oil and salt, then leave to cool completely.
Once the mix is cold, stir through the feta, then transfer to a bowl or glass jar and leave to marinate, at room temperature if you plan to eat it within the next couple of hours, or refrigerated (and covered) if you’re having it later. If you do refrigerate it, take the feta out of the fridge about an hour or so before you want to serve it, for the oil to come back up to room temperature.
Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice.
Sesame crusted feta with burnt honey syrup
I love the combination of sweet and salty in a cheesy context. It’s a welcome assault on the tastebuds, and truly wakes you up. This is why this dish in particular is good served for a late breakfast or brunch, with eggs, bacon if you like, and a green salad alongside. It’s super rich, so one piece is more than enough, if you have it as part of a brunch spread.
Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
2 blocks Greek feta (360g), each cut into four triangles (ie, 8 triangles in all)
35g rice flour (you could use plain flour instead, if you’re not gluten free)
1 large egg, well beaten
100g mixed black and white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp picked lemon thyme, or regular thyme
For the syrup
120g runny honey
1 tsp ground black lime (optional)
3 lemons; 1 juiced, to get 1 tbsp, the others left whole
Line a shallow, 30cm x 20cm baking dish (or baking tray with a slight lip) with greaseproof paper.
Pat dry the feta, then dip each piece in the flour, gently shaking off any excess. Coat the cheese triangles first in the beaten egg and then the sesame seeds, making sure they are completely coated. Transfer each piece to a lined tray and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or for up to eight hours if you want to get ahead).
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/gas 9. Drizzle the oil over the feta and bake from cold for 18 minutes, very gently flipping the pieces once halfway, or until golden and warmed through.
While the feta is baking, put the honey and black lime (if using) in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat. Once the mix starts to bubble, turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about six to seven minutes, until it turns a deep amber caramel. Off the heat, stir in lemon juice until incorporated and smooth, then leave to cool slightly for about five minutes.
Meanwhile, use a small, sharp knife to trim the tops and tails off the remaining two lemons. Cut down around their curves, removing the skin and white pith. Release the individual lemon segments by slicing between the membranes, then stir these into the cooled honey mixture.
Pour the lemon syrup directly over the feta in the baking dish, scatter over the thyme and serve at once straight from the dish.
Roast red pepper dip with lemon and olive salsa
This is loosely based on the Middle Eastern red pepper dip muhamarra. The addition of feta makes it creamy and more complex, and I amplify this even further with chopped fresh lemon and olive salsa. It’s delightfully not for the faint-hearted. Serve with bread or crudite, as a starter or as part of a meze spread.
Prep 25 min
Cook 55 min
5 red peppers, quartered lengthways, stem, pith and seeds discarded (600g net weight)
2-3 vine tomatoes (300g), halved
1 red chilli, stem removed
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
90ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled
60g blanched almonds, well toasted and roughly chopped
150g Greek feta, roughly crumbled
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 lemon, segmented
50g pitted green olives, roughly chopped (I use nocellara)
1½ tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/gas 9. Put the pepper quarters, tomatoes, chilli, onion, two tablespoons of oil, a half-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper on a large oven tray lined with baking paper and toss to combine. Roast for 20 minutes, give everything a stir, then add the garlic cloves and roast for 15-20 minutes more, or until everything is softened and coloured.
Leave to cool, then peel the peppers and tomatoes, and discard the skins.
Transfer everything to a food processor, add the almonds, feta, half the ground toasted spices, two tablespoons more of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and blitz smooth. Refrigerate to cool completely (and set slightly).
Meanwhile, make the salsa. Using a small, sharp knife, trim the top and tail off the lemon. Cut down along its round curves, removing the skin and white pith as you go. Release the segments from the lemon by slicing between the membranes, then roughly chop each segment in two or three pieces.
Put these in a bowl with the olives, coriander, the remaining two tablespoons of oil and the remaining ground toasted spices, and mix to combine.
To serve, spread the dip on to a wide, shallow plate and spoon the salsa into the centre.
Source: Thanks https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/feb/22/yotam-ottolenghis-feta-recipes