A taste of the Med: Marinated Feta
Bread and cheese (or naan-o-paneer in Persian) are the opener to any classic Persian meal. We usually pair them with fresh herbs, fresh walnuts, radishes and spring onions.
I came up with this dish as an alternative to the classic version and it has become a firm favourite with my diners and friends alike. It's great in salads and the marinade makes a tasty salad dressing with just a little extra lemon juice. Or simply scoop up the chunks of feta with bread.
Serves 6-8 as part of a mezze
400g (14oz) feta cheese
500-600ml (18-20fl oz) olive oil (the quantity depends on the size of the dish used to marinate the cheese)
75ml (2½ fl oz) garlic oil
Rind of 2 lemons, finely grated and juice of ½ lemon
3 long banana shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
10-12 pickled chillies, thinly sliced (and 3 tbsp of the pickle brine)
2 x 20g packets of coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped
You probably have 2 packets of feta. Cut each into chunks — I would suggest 12 per pack, but do as you wish. Put the chunks into a shallow bowl or airtight container.
Pour the olive oil, garlic oil, lemon rind and juice and salt to taste into a mixing bowl. Add the shallots, pickled chillies and coriander and mix well to ensure all the aromatics are evenly distributed in the marinade. Pour the pickle brine into the bowl and mix well.
Arrange the feta in your chosen container, leaving a little space between each cube. Pour over the marinade, shaking the container to ensure the marinade |covers the feta. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate for a minimum of 3 hours before serving.
This dish stores well overnight but keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume within a few days.
Tip To replace the brine in the jar of pickled chillies you use just add cold water to cover the remaining chillies and a couple of pinches of salt before resealing.
What better dish is there than one that can be placed into a roasting pan, popped in the oven and is ready in less than 15 minutes? This is the kind of food that I want to eat all the time. It isn't messy or time consuming and the results are truly spectacular. This is a veritable meat feast and, of course, you can use any spices you like, although salt is essential to bring out the flavour, so don't forget to use an adequate amount.
This recipe first appeared in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour published by Mitchell Beazley