Feta is a fresh, briny cheese often associated with foods rooted in the sun-drenched Mediterranean cuisines – think olives, capers and vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Here in the US, feta is often made from cow’s milk which produces a pleasantly mild, slightly tart cheese.
To be called feta in the European Union, it must originate in Greece and be limited to sheep and or goat’s milk, thus offering a rich panorama of flavors and textures. Depending on process and aging time in brine, Greek feta can vary in saltiness, range from soft to hard textured, and taste from tart to tangy.
One popular treatment is to submerge bite-sized feta cubes in olive oil along with assorted herbs, garlic and such, and allow the marinade to infuse into the cheese; the longer the better. That is certainly lovely with a robust cheese that responds to big flavors, but beware of overpowering a mild flavored feta. To better showcase feta’s more subdued qualities, I prefer to deconstruct the whole concept.
For this simple method, begin with a block of feta, slice it for easy serving, sprinkle it with herbs and seasonings, and drizzle it lightly with olive oil. Cover it and allow the flavors to meld for an hour or so in the fridge.
When ready to enjoy, bring the marinated feta to room temperature, perhaps drizzle with a bit more olive oil if it appears dry, and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with an assortment of olives, crusty bread, pita crisps or crackers, pass a bowl or crunchy radishes, and call it good!
Herb Marinated Feta
1 lb. fresh feta cheese
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon savory, rosemary, or oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Accompaniments: assorted olives, fresh bread or pita crisps, crunchy radishes
- Slice the feta and arrange it on a serving plate.
- Sprinkle the cheese with herbs and red pepper flakes. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Cover and chill for an hour or longer.
- To assemble, drizzle with a bit more olive oil if it looks dry, dust with grinds of salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh thyme, assorted olives.
- Serve with crunchy bread, crackers or pita crisps, and a bowl of fresh radishes. Serves 4.