Monday, September 2, 2013

Two ways to be Feta Chic - Salad and Appetizer


Feta is a brined soft cheese, made from sheep (and goats milk) and is very popular in Greek cuisine. It looks like paneer but is much softer, grainier and tangier. While the most popular way of using feta is in a Greek Salad – this cheese has the ability to shine in many other dishes. I picked up a slab of Feta this week and was hard pressed to find a recipe that does it justice. I wanted Feta to be the star of the dish and not just a supporting element. After many frustrating hours of searching my recipe books and the internet, I just decided to use it in a Watermelon and Arugula (Rocket) Salad. Besides, I had recently learnt how to deseed a watermelon and I was itching to see if it works. (It does – Instructables shows you how!). The salad is an amazing medley of tastes and textures – sweet and crispy watermelon, crunchy and peppery arugula and finally creamy and salty feta, dressed with silky honey and olive oil. The salad is super easy to put together and colorful to look at as well. I used up half the slab of feta here and packed the other half away.
Later in the day, I remembered a beautiful meal that me and the co-resident had in one of our favorite Greek restaurants – Thalassa in Goa. The appetizer was a slab of marinated Feta served with toasted Pita! I had found my Feta Star recipe. This is an absolute breeze to make and you will not believe the flavor explosion in your mouth. If I wanted to serve up a really chic appetizer in a fancy party – this would be it! It makes sense to go out and scout for a good slab of Feta, just to have the pleasure of eating this. The creamy Feta just luxuriates in a good quality olive oil and once you dress it in some herbs – your work is done. Like Leonardo Da Vinci said and Steve Jobs believed - “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  
Feta, Watermelon and Arugula Salad

Prep time: 15 mins
Serves 2

What you need:
150 gms/ 1 packet Arugula, washed and dried
75 gms Feta, cubed
200 gms Watermelon, deseeded and cubed
Dressing:
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

What to do:

Put the cubed watermelon in the fridge. Wash the Salad leaves and pat dry or use a salad spinner. In a small bottle with a tight lid  - add the dressing ingredients and shake well to get a creamy dressing. Use half the liquid to dress the salad leaves well. Now place the salad leaves in a bowl and top with the watermelon cubes. Gingerly place the Feta cubes all over. (The Feta is very soft and creamy. If you just add all the ingredients and toss the salad, you will end up with a curd like coating and no sign of the Feta cubes! ). Now dress the salad with the remaining dressing. A summer day is a perfect foil to enjoy this gorgeous salad!

Feta – marinated in Olive Oil and Herbs

Prep time: 10 mins
Serves 3-4

What you need:
75 gms Feta, cubed
60 ml Extra Virgin Oilve Oil
1 Tbsp Mixed Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary) - I use Keya Italian Seasoning
½ tsp Crushed Black Pepper
½ Tbsp Chilli Flakes
To serve:
Pita/ Crostini
Black and Green Olives

What to do:

Dry roast the herbs, pepper and chilli flakes in a hot pan for 2 mins. (This helps release the aromatic oils).  Alternatively you can just heat the herbs in the microwave for 30 secs. Now pour the olive oil onto the herbs and warm through in the microwave for 30 secs. Place the cubed Feta, in a small shallow bowl, Now pour the oil and herb mixture over the Feta. Use a very light hand to ensure all the cubes are well marinated. Add some more oil here if necessary. Serve with Pita (I like mine toasted) and some olives. Prepare to be crowned Queen (or King) of Chic Appetizers. 

1 comment:

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