Sunday, April 4, 2010

Marinated Feta with fresh herbs

Long before I ever tried Yarra Valley Persian Fetta, I have loved marinated feta. Yes, I meant to type fetta with two t's instead of one... apparently only the Greek variety can be called feta with one t. Marinated feta makes an excellent antipasto or salad addition. And you can find many uses for the flavorful olive oil used as a marinade-- can toss it with pasta, use it in a dressing for mixed greens, or use it as dipping oil for bread.

I found Greek feta at my favorite cheese shop... there were huge chunks stored in a vat covered in brine. It was perfect. I did a taste comparison with French fetta, which was waaay creamier than the Greek kind. For the purpose of marinating the cubes, I opted to stick to the authentic Greek kind but I don't think it really matters.

A basic way to marinate feta is with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, bay leaves, fresh lemon zest, and of course good extra virgin olive oil. I like to throw in red chilis and slightly cracked peppercorns for a little kick.

Variations are easy (don't be shy), but be careful if you add garlic because it *must* be consumed within a few days (otherwise it can lead to food poisoning). Another excellent antipasto is feta with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary, red chilis, black peppercorns, dried oregano, and coriander seeds. You want to store the marinated feta in a tightly sealed sterile jar (run it through the dishwasher to sterilize).

Marinated feta with fresh herbs
8 oz Greek feta, cut into large 1" cubes
lots of sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
3 bay leaves (I used dried)
zest of one lemon
4 red chilis (I used dried)
1 heaping tbsp black peppercorns, slightly cracked
1 cup good extra virgin olive oil

Place cubed feta in sterile jar, layering herbs, red chilis, and peppercorns in between. Add lemon zest.

Pour olive oil into the jar until the feta is covered. Keep in fridge and consume within two weeks. It tastes better every day, but I can hardly make it last that long!

Marinated feta with sun-dried tomatoes
Skip the bay leaves, thyme, and lemon zest. Add 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tsp coriander seeds, and 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes (not the kind that's packed in olive oil). Layer cubed feta, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and spices as before. Cover with good olive oil. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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