As basic ingredients go, the tangy freshness of feta, along with its satisfying, crumbly texture and salty-sour flavour is hard to beat. I think Feta cheese has a transformative prowess that can effortlessly elevate so many simple dishes. I always keep a little feta in my fridge ready to be crumbled over salads or roasted potatoes and pumpkin, or marinated with olives rosemary, thyme and lemon zest or just to rumble up a quick, delicious dip with avocado and coriander.
But not all Feta is made equal, the best type of Feta has a creamy yet easy-to-crumble texture and a salty flavour that’s not too overwhelming. Feta is descended from the soft, tart goat’s-milk cheeses that have been known in the Balkans, and especially in Greece and Bulgaria, forever. At the end of the day, though, the most important thing to look for when buying feta is how it’s packaged. You should always try and buy Feta in brine. The brine helps to intensify the flavour, elongate feta’s life span, and improve its creamy texture.
Feta has a great affinity with so many other ingredients. A simple tomato salad is transformed with a good sprinkling of feta as is sliced watermelon, grilled courgettes, cucumber and aubergines. In fact, grilled aubergines with crumbled feta is one of my all-time favourite things to eat!
Spiced Aubergines with Crumbled Feta and creamy walnut dressing
- 3 large aubergines, sliced lengthways into ½ cm-thick
- 4tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 2tsp ras al hanout spice mix
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 200g feta cheese, crumbled
- A small bunch of fresh mint
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Creamy walnut dressing
- Juice 1 lime
- 100g crème fraîche
- 2tbsp Natural Greek yoghurt
- 100g walnuts, chopped
- 2tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine 80g of walnuts with the crème fraîche, natural yoghurt, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor and blend to a puree. Season to taste. Heat a heavy-bottomed griddle pan until very hot. Season the aubergine slices with spices and brush them with a little olive oil. Place them on the griddle pan and grill for 2 minutes and turn them over until soft and cooked through. Place the aubergines in a bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle over the aubergines and leave to marinate for 5-10 minutes. To serve, arrange the aubergines on a platter, scatter the crumbled feta and mint leaves. Serve with creamy walnut dressing.
Tomato pomegranate and feta salad
- 450g cherry tomatoes (a mixture of colours also looks really nice)
- 2 small shallots, sliced very finely lengthways
- 150g feta cheese, drained
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 fresh mint leaves
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them into a bowl. Add the finely sliced shallots, the white balsamic vinegar, pomegranate molasses, honey and olive oil. Season and mix well. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta cheese and garnish with fresh mint. Serve immediately.
Chilled beetroot gazpacho with crumbled feta and mint
- 650g fresh beetroot, with stalks
- 800ml cold water (or enough to cover the beets)
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 250ml milk
- 150ml natural yogurt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
- 2tbsp virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 150g feta cheese, crumbled
- 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cooked beetroot, peeled & diced
Wash the beetroot in cold water and place into a large saucepan. Cover with 800ml cold water. Bring to the boil slowly, then turn down the heat and very gently simmer for 35 minutes. It’s important that the soup doesn’t boil too rapidly. Remove from the heat and carefully take out the cooked beetroot. Leave to cool slightly.Peel the beetroots, cut into quarters and place them in a clean saucepan. Pour over the vegetable stock, add the sugar and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, milk and natural yogurt. Blend with the MQ9 until completely smooth. Season to taste and chill for 2-3 hours. To serve, Divide the soup between 4 soup bowls and garnish with diced beetroot, crumbled feta and mint leaves.
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