An easy and gorgeous appetizer that I occasionally eat as a main course when I'm home alone with a crusty loaf of bread.
Roasting a simple slab of feta with lemon zest and olive oil is an addictive way to eat the salty, tangy cheese. There are endless ways to serve warm feta (like crumbling it over a salad). This topping of zesty scallion and basil pesto is an unusual but favorite combination.
- 1 8-ounce piece feta cheese, about 1-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon walnut pieces (4 to 6 whole walnuts)
- 8 scallions, green parts only, chopped (I use kitchen shears to snip the scallions)
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus the zest of 1 small lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle on cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 425 F
Put the feta in a baking dish that you can also serve the feta in, or, put the feta on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the cheese with a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil. Top with the lemon zest. Bake 25 minutes, until feta is bubbling and browned around the edges. Use a wide spatula to carefully transfer the warm feta from the baking sheet to a serving dish.
While the feta is roasting, put the walnuts in a food processor. Pulse a few times to break the walnuts into small pieces. Add the scallions and basil. Continue to blend until very finely chopped. While the blade is running, add the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt. You can add more salt to taste, but remember, the feta is quite salty.
Blend the pesto until desired consistency is reached, either slightly chunky or very smooth.
Storing Feta at Home
Feta keeps much longer than most fresh cheeses. This is because feta is a brined cheese and the salt acts as a preservative. Feta can last for weeks, or more, in the refrigerator. Ideally, feta should be submerged in brine the whole time, which keeps it moist and fresh. You can make your own brine by mixing water with a little bit of salt. Or, if the feta is too salty, soaking the feta in milk for awhile can help cut the salty and sharp flavors of the cheese. However, milk should not be used for long-term storage.
How do you know if feta has gone bad? The smell will be unpleasant and the flavor will be sour, rather than tangy. There might also be reddish or orange mold on the surface.