Cheese Appetizers: Baked Feta with Za’atar, Lemon and Garlic

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – G.K.Chesterton. Considering the multitudes of cheeses available world over ranging from deli cheeses to gourmet delights, one would have thought poets would have used cheese in some part of their prose. That being so, many cheese connoisseurs probably have uttered some beautiful sayings with each bite, paying homage to this delectable creation. For me, personally, eating cheese is like fulfilling my desires, be it on a scorching hot day or cold wintery night. There is one variety to suit every mood.

Baked Feta

Whether your are having a picnic in the park, entertaining guests at home, dining in a fancy restaurant or simply just vegging out in front of your television, cheese and bread is a must. Since I enjoy experimenting with food, coming up with novel ideas for cheese was a walk in the park.

Having its roots in Greece, Feta cheese is a brined cured cheese made from sheep’s milk or sometime a mix of goat’s and sheep’s milk. The texture is crumbly and the taste salty. It is normally used in salads or traditional Greek appetizers like “Spanakopita”, but rarely eaten on its own. I set out on an adventure to defy the norm and understand a way to eat feta on a toasted slice of bread.

Baked Feta

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 block of feta cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Za’atar
  • 1/2 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Few slices of red pepper as garnish

Preparation:

  • Place the block of feta in a deep rounded oven-proof dish (Note: Use the same dish you would be serving the feta in, as it will not be able to be transferred later on)
  • Pour olive oil inside the dish till about 1/4 full. Drizzle some oil on top of the feta as well
  • Sprinkle the za’atar generously on the feta as well as in the oil
  • Add the sliced garlic to the dish, some on the feta and the rest in the oil
  • Pour the lemon juice over the feta
  • Preheat oven to about 375f and bake the feta for about 20 minutes
  • Garnish and serve immediately

Baked Feta

Baking the feta changes its texture completely, it turns into a smooth soft white cheese from a crumbly block. Most of the oil evaporates with the heat, however, some of it remains in the dish. I prefer to leave the oil as is, whereas if you want the cheese to be dry, you can scoop the remaining oil out before serving. For me, the oil just enhances the flavor of the cheese. Slice the cheese, put it on a slice of warm toasted baguette and drizzle with the oil and herbs; simply delightful. You too can tweak this recipe to suit your desires by using any other dried herb in place of the za’atar, such as dried mint, basil, thyme, rosemary etc. Serve it with breadsticks, toasted french bread or baked pita.

As Avery Aames said “Life is great. Cheese makes it better.”

  • http://testyhostess.com Elisabeth

    Sounds delicious! I’ll have to look up Za atar.

  • http://www.girlinthelittleredkitchen.com Susan

    Baked feta is a favorite appetizer of mine and I love all the flavors that you used!