Marinated Feta with Garlic, Chilli and Fresh Herbs
I love this Marinated Feta recipe. For me, it is the perfect example of how by adding a few flavouring elements – garlic, chilli and fresh herbs – you can transform simple feta cheese into a truly memorable dish. It is so easy to make and it keeps for up to a month in the refridgerator. This is food preparation that anyone can do. It does not require any level of culinary skill but allows you to be creative with flavours and produce something that is tailored to your individual taste. Marinated Feta is also really versatile and is great as a nibble with drinks or on bread as a light lunch. It is also excellent for picnics as it can be transported easily in its own jar.
A cultural mix-up….
Clearly, Marinated Feta is not a traditional English dish but, using herbs from my garden, it brings a bit of sunny Greece to cooler northern Europe. One of the wonderful things about modern English cooking is the way it is influenced by cuisines from other countries which are absorbed and adapted. I think that this is what cooking and developing recipes is all about. In a strange way, this dish is actually inspired by memories of my rural English childhood when, not so long ago, access to foods from other countries was not so common as it is now. When I was about ten, a wonderful Greek delicatessen opened in my local town, bringing olives, dolmades, taramasalata and wonderful Marinated Feta to greedy locals! I loved the garlicky, herby feta and, many years later, tried to recreate it in this recipe.
… and the perfect recipe for experimentation!
I have made this recipe using garlic, chilli and have chosen to use bay leaves, rosemary and thyme as my fresh herbs. However, you can change the flavour combinations according to what you have to hand and what you think tastes good. Don’t like chilli? Leave it out. Love garlic? Put more in! If you have other favourite herbs, why not try them instead?
Feta Cheese, marinated with garlic, chilli and fresh herbs, takes minutes to prepare and keeps for up to a month. It is fantastic as a nibble with drinks or spread on bread for a light lunch. It is also great for a picnic as it is easily transportable.
150 g feta cheese
3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme (to provide 2 tablespoons of leaves)
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
300 ml good quality olive oil
Sterilise a 500 ml capacity jar by washing it in soapy water and then putting it in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes.
Chop the feta into cubes of approximately 1 cm square and place them in the jar.
Tuck the rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves around the cheese. Strip the leaves off the thyme stems and add them to the jar.
Peel and slice the garlic cloves and add them to the jar.
If using, scatter the chilli flakes over the top of the cheese.
Fill the jar with the olive oil making sure that all the cheese is covered.
Put the lid on the jar and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours, ideally several days, for the cheese to absorb the flavours of the garlic and herbs.
The marinated cheese will last for up to a month.
When you wish to eat the cheese, remove the jar from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. This will mean the oil is liquid and the flavours are fully developed.
Marinated feta is great on its own as a nibble with drinks. It can also be spread on bread as a light lunch. It is a good option for picnics as it can be easily transported in its jar.
Use this recipe as a basis and experiment with flavours that you like. If you don’t like chilli, leave it out. If you love garlic, put more in. You can alter the quantity and type of herbs used.
If you are looking for easy, nutritious comfort food which can be whipped up quickly for breakfast, lunch or supper, then look no further than these Baked Eggs with Cheese. I think that this recipe is a brilliant example of the miraculous transformation that you can achieve by cooking familiar ingredients in a slightly different way. Somehow, oven-baking makes two eggs and a bit of cheese into a sustaining and filling dish which is also a bit of a treat. It is absolutely what I want to eat on a lazy weekend morning, particularly after a late night, or when I get home exhausted after a day at work.
Baked Eggs with Cheese is also one of those versatile, flexible dishes which it is always handy to know. They are a vegetarian but fall into the “vegetarian-by-stealth” category in that that non-vegetarians do not seem to notice the lack of meat. Also, you can make as many portions as you need according to how many people you need to feed. So you can have a meal-for-one or a meal for ten (or more!) according to your requirements.
It is also a recipe that is perfect for adaptation according to your particular taste preferences and available ingredients. I love recipes like this as I enjoy experimenting with different flavour combinations. The basic recipe uses eggs, cheese and herbs. In this version, I use cheddar and chives but there are so many other cheese and herb combinations that you could try. Other good combinations are: mozarella and basil, goat’s cheese and dill, ricotta and thyme, blue cheese and chervil.
Easy and versatile. Quick and sustaining. Herby Baked Eggs with Cheese is a go-to recipe for a luxurious breakfast or an after-work supper.
For each serving:
A little melted butter or oil
25 g of hard cheese such as mature cheddar
A small bunch of chives
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of double cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
For each serving you will need a small ramekin or oven-proof bowl.
Set your oven to 200 C or Gas Mark 6.
Lightly grease the inside of each of your ramekin with melted butter or oil.
Grate the cheese and put it in the bottom of the ramekin.
Chop the chives and scatter half of them over the cheese.
Break the eggs into the ramekin.
Spoon the double cream over the eggs. Using the cream makes the dish taste richer but you can leave it out if you want a lighter and healthier meal.
Season with salt and pepper.
Put the ramekin on a baking tray and put in the oven. Bake until the whites are set. Baking times will vary according to your oven and how you like your eggs. It is a good idea to check every now and then the first time that you cook them. In my oven, it takes 12 minutes for runny yolks, 15 minutes for soft cooked yolks and 20 for hard yolks.
Remove the ramekin from the oven. Scatter the rest of the chopped chives over the top.
Serve immediately with some crusty bread if you want to make it a bit more substantial.
You can make this recipe with different cheese and herb combinations. I also like mozarella and basil, goat’s cheese and dill, ricotta and thyme, blue cheese and chervil but there are lots of possibilities and it is fun to experiment!
Keywords: eggs, baked eggs, herbs, chives, cheese
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This recipe is based on on “” by Geraldene Holt, which dates back to the 1980s, and is one of my favourite cookery books, beautifully designed and produced, with fantastic recipes. My version of this recipe is slightly different as I use more garlic, fewer eggs and make individual tartlets rather than one large tart.
These tartlets are all about the taste of the herbs. Often herbs are used to enhance the flavours of other foods but here they are the stars of the show, rather than a supporting act. The choice of herbs to include is up to you, depending on what you have to hand and which flavours you prefer, but they need to be soft herbs (no bayleaves!) and you need to think about the balance of flavours as some stronger herbs, such as rosemary, will dominate the others. I generally include chives as I love their mild oniony flavour and then add other soft, milder herbs that are growing in my herb garden such as parsley, tarragon, chervil or sorrel. You can choose to just use one herb – tarragon or sorrel are good on their own as they both have very distinctive flavours – or use several. If using more than one variety, I would stick to three or four, otherwise the flavours will not be distinct.
Combined with a mixed green salad and maybe a potato salad, these tartlets make a fantastic light summer lunch or supper. They are also good as part of a buffet at a summer party or as a snack at a drinks party.
These Herb Tartlets allow the flavour of fresh herbs to be the star of the show rather than a supporting act.
For the pastry:
275 g plain flour
125 g fat (I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
A little water
For the filling:
1 clove of garlic
150 ml double cream
55 g mixed fresh herbs – such as parsley, chives, chervil, tarragon or sorrel
Salt and pepper
Method: for the pastry
Set oven to 200 degrees C/gas mark 6. Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl. Add the fat and combine – either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
Roll out your pastry and use a round pastry cutter to cut circles. Put a circle in each indentation in your tartlet tin.
Method: for the filling
Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream and beat until mixed.
Add the crushed clove of garlic.
Chop the fresh herbs finely and add them to the cream and egg mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the filling into each pastry circle in your tartlet tin.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
When slightly cooled, remove from the tartlet tin, and place on a cooling rack.
The tartlets can be eaten hot, warm or at room temperature.
Asparagus and Herb Cheese Tart is a really quick and easy supper or lunch dish and can be eaten hot or cold. Using ready-made puff pastry makes it a doddle. There is no shame in using ready-made pastry – it makes things so much easier – but if you can find a brand that says it is made with butter it will taste so much better!
There are lots of ready-made cream cheeses with herbs and garlic – you can probably think of a few brands! However, it is the work of moments to make your own version and, as with all home-made food, you can tailor it to your own tastes. Don’t like garlic? Leave it out. Love chives? Put loads of them in! I have used herbs that I had to hand in my garden and which I think go well together – and with the asparagus – but go with what you have and what you like! The one thing I would recommend keeping in, is the lemon zest. Asparagus has an affinity with lemon and with dairy products – a traditional way of serving it is with buttery, lemony Hollandaise sauce – which highlights its fresh, grassy flavour.
This Asparagus and Herb Cheese Tart combines crisp buttery pastry with creamy cheese and fresh asparagus. It is very quick and easy to make for a light lunch or supper.
375 g pack of puff pastry (the brands made with butter are best!)
200 g cream cheese
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
Grated zest of half a lemon
A bunch of mixed herbs to taste – I used fennel, thyme, chives and parsley – (finely chopped)
Salt and pepper
7 or 8 stems of asparagus
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Roll your puff pastry out into a rectangle to fit your baking tray. Place it on the tray.
Place the cream cheese in your mixing bowl and add the crushed garlic cloves, lemon zest and chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the cheese mixture onto your pastry rectangle leaving about 2 cm clear around the edges.
Remove the thyme leaves from the woody stems (keep the stems) and put them in a small bowl. Add the grated zest of your lemon along with the crushed garlic. Put your softened butter into the bowl and mash to combine with the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the ends of the asparagus stems as these can be woody and difficult to eat. The best way of doing this is to simply bend the stem and it will snap at the right point.
Place the asparagus on top of the cheese mixture on your pastry rectangle. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Place the baking tray into the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is crisp, golden and puffed up and the asparagus is soft.
Filo Triangles with two fillings – “Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb” and “Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut”
These filo triangles are really easy to make and can be served hot or cold. I generally make a batch of 14 filo Triangles – half with each filling as they complement each other. The “Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb” filling is creamy, salty and allows the flavour of your chosen herbs to sing out. The “Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut” filling is rich and sweet with a buzz of heat with texture provided by the pinenuts.
Both versions make a great lunch or supper, and are really good in lunch boxes and on picnics. They are also fancy enough to be served for dinner parties or more formal occasions. If I am trying to impress, I serve them with a Green Salad with Edible Flowers. This is easy (and beautiful!). Just take salad leaves such as lambs lettuce, maybe add additional bits such as cucumber or avocado – I tend to stick to green things so flowers are obvious – and dress with vinaigrette. Scatter edible flowers, such as violas or primroses, on top.
These crispy filo triangles, filled with tasty vegetarian fillings, make a great lunch or supper.
Ingredients: Filo Triangles
1 packet of filo pastry (270 g or 7 sheets)
100 g butter (melted)
Filling: Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut
Half a butternut squash
1 red onion
Salt and pepper
75 g feta cheese
Half a fresh red chilli (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
50 g pinenuts (roasted)
Filling: Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb
75 g feta cheese
75 g cream cheese
A large bunch of mixed, fresh herbs to taste (parsley, basil, chives, fennel fronds)
I spring onion
Black pepper to taste
Method – Feta Cheese and Mixed Herb filling
Crumble the feta into a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.
Finely chop the mixed herbs and spring onion and add to the cheese mixture. Season with black pepper (no need for salt as feta is very salty).
Method – Roasted Butternut Squash, Chilli and Pinenut filling
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Peel your butternut squash and chop into small chunks (around 2 cm). (You will only need half of the squash for the filling but I generally roast it all and serve the other half of the chunks as an accompaniment.) Cut the red onion into quarters leaving the skin on. Put the squash chunks and onion pieces on a baking tray, sprinkle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Roughly mash the butternut squash. Remove the skin from the onion and roughly chop and combine with the butternut squash in a mixing bowl. Crumble the feta cheese into the bowl with the vegetables. Add the finely chopped red chilli, the crushed garlic and the roasted pinenuts.
Method – Assembling the Filo Triangles
Cut each filo sheet in half lengthways and brush all over with melted butter. Put a spoonful of the filling at one end of the filo strip, and fold into triangles so that it is encased in several layers of filo.
Put the filled filo triangles on a baking sheet and brush the top of each with melted butter.
When you have made all your filo triangles, return the baking tray to the oven and cook at 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4 for 25 minutes.
Remove the filo triangles from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. They can be eaten hot, warm or at room temperature.
Keywords: filo pastry triangles, butternut squash, feta, chilli