According to mythology, the gods sent Aristaios, son of Apollo, to teach Greeks the art of cheese making. This way or that, dating back to the 8th century BC, feta, a brined curd white cheese was born. It is a protected designation of origin product in the European Union, only cheeses produced in a traditional way in particular areas of Greece made from sheep’s milk, or from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk can be called feta. However, similar white cheeses are produced in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans (made partly or wholly of cow’s milk). And I happen to be living around here! #luckygirl
Seriously, is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t like feta? I think not. And if you have about 5 minutes, I’ll show you how to take your cheese-eating to the next level by marinating it in herb-infused, fruity olive oil. Again, this is a delectable treat you may have encountered in your supermarket before that looks incredibly fancy and comes with a slightly outrageous price tag. Once you try your hands at it though, there’s no turning back: it will leave the commercial kind for dead.
A Mediterranean-inspired smooth and spreadable delight, this crowd pleaser is sure to bring rave reviews from family and friends. Marinated feta is an impressive dinner party appetizer, an elegant hostess gift or a great addition to your wine o’clock menu, making you look like a culinary star. Spread it on crusty artisan bread, crumble onto salads, scatter over pizza or stick a toothpick in the cubes to serve as it is. Oh, and please, please do not discard of the remainig oil! It is great to toss with pasta, as a marinade for olives, roasting potatoes or vegetables, and as base for a vinaigrette too.
So without further ado, here’s how you do it. Start with a clean, sterilized jar and add chunks of feta (or any other kind of white cheese, use what’s available), the size you prefer. Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and pour olive oil into the jar until the cheese is submerged. This is somewhere you don’t need to use the best, most expensive olive oil. Add dried herbs and/or spices (don’t be shy), seal jar and store in the fridge. Allow flavors to develop at least 24 hours, but patience is virtue – the longer the cheese is infusing the better. Refrigerated, marinated feta will keep for up to a month if completely covered with oil. The olive oil may thicken in the fridge, but will turn to liquid again at room temperature.
To kick-start your imagination, here’s a not-at-all inclusive list of the wonderful things you can flavor the marinating oil with: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, chives, dill, bay leaves, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, chili peppers, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, green olives. Mix and match as you like!
This works with mozzarella just as well. Just sayin’… 😉