Marinated Feta Recipe

There’s lots of feta-like cheese out there, but only cheese made in Greece is considered true feta nowadays and you can’t call it feta anymore unless it was produced there. Like Champagne, which has to be made in Champagne or Brie de Meaux which has to be made is Meaux, it isn’t feta unless it’s made where it’s supposed to be made—in Greece.

Although I’m not much of a font of knowledge about a lot of things, if it’s food-related, I’ll do in a pinch. If you want to make something that’s impressive and incredibly simple to put together, maybe I can help you out there as well. This is a favorite around here and once you make it, you’ll be rewarded in the days following with salty chunks of cheese infused in a sublime bath of fruity olive oil scented with summery herbs.

Feta

Start with a clean jar of any size and add chunks of feta. I like to keep them large, around 2-inches (6cm) max is good. You can also use rounds of semi-firm chèvre too, and I bought a big chunk of sheep’s milk cheese today at my favorite Arab grocer that may or may not have been true feta, but was not-too-dry and I knew would be just perfect.


But use what’s available wherever you live, by all means.

feta-.jpg

As you stack the feta, add lots of branches of thyme and rosemary (don’t be shy), a few fragrant bay leaves, punch it up with some of those small, dried red chili peppers or chili flakes, add a couple of turns of freshly-ground pepper—whatever floats your boat (or the feta.) Use whatever you want. Maybe a few strips of citrus zest too. But as much as we all love garlic, it’s best not to add it since it can cause food-related illness.

Then pour olive oil into the jar until the cheese is submerged. For olive oil, my go-to oil here in Paris is Puget, which is great for everyday cooking. Feel free to use what’s available in your area. This is somewhere that you don’t need to use the best, most expensive olive oil that all those lunatic foodies are fawning over, although I do have a bottle of mid-priced K olive oil from Algeria that has the taste of kalamata olives that’s stupendous for marinating cheese. (I don’t know where it’s available in the US, and I’m not crazy enough to share what’s left of mine. But perhaps search in a Greek market for something similar.)

Some say that if the cheese is completely covered with the oil, you can let it sit around at room temperature. But if I’m not going to eat mine within 24 hours, I do stick it in the refrigerator where I like to consume it within two weeks. Although it tastes better and better with each passing day, I can’t wait long and mine usually lasts just through the following weekend. It’s great served in big chunks on a salad platter, scattered over pasta or pizza, crumbled up with fresh tomatoes with some of the tasty oil drizzled over, or even cubed as a little appetizer to finish off the last few bottles of rosé that may be lingering in your fridge.

The leftover oil is great to toss with whole wheat pasta and whatever else you like with your noodles, as a marinade for olives, roasting potatoes or vegetables, or you can use it as a base for an herbaceous vinaigrette too.




Related Recipes and Links

How to Choose Good Feta Cheese (Huffington Taste)

Feta and Prosciutto Rolls

Creamy Feta-Red Wine Vinegar Dressing

29 comments

  • How did you know that right now – as in, this very second – I was looking for recipes and hints for this? eh?

  • …actually, was wondering if you could do this with jalapeno? Chicago’s Lula Cafe serves feta prepared with jalapeno oil, and it’s perfect – a small amount of heat with lots of fresh, bright jalapeno flavor. can I enroll you in helping me replicate it?

  • Megan: Yes, do try it! It’s something that’s really easy to make and looks so impressive once you’re done.

    Have never used jalapeño, but maybe one of my readers has some advice…or ask next time you’re in the restaurant and let us know.

  • I love pickling and or marinating anything I can get my hands on, and this looks so good! I really want to try it with chevre!

    B: Hand to Mouth

  • David, you share such lovely food ideas with us. Funny thing about feta, here in Chicago-land, when I buy my feta, I prefer French feta over Greek. The Ravinia Festival is our destination this week to hear Tony Bennett(Friday), do I have enough time to make so this tastes wonderful?

  • I used to do this with chevre long ago and had forgotten about it.. I never added bay leaves though.. love that idea. Will try it again soon. Maybe even with feta.

  • Although I can’t lay claim to being an ‘Olive Oil Officianado’, I do like the taste of it in almost everything where oil is required. Because I tend to use it so liberally I’ve found that the one’s carried by Trader’s here in California are both inexpensive as well as wonderful tasting. It seems to me that at seven dollars and change for a large bottle marked ‘Extra Virgin’ and imported from either Italy or Greece you really can’t go that far wrong.

  • I’m pretty careful what olive oil I buy. There’s a lot of fraud in the Italian olive oil industry, as reported recently in The New Yorker. But it’s been going on for a long time.

    I bought some olive oil at a market once and when I got it home, I took a sip…and spit it out. There was something so vile and acidic about it that I was certain it was adulterated with something else. I was glad I tasted it before cooking with it! (I was thinking about the famous Spanish Toxic Olive Oil incident as down the drain it went…)

    Labeling laws regarding olive oil are pretty lax: Take care since ‘Made in Italy‘ means something very different than ‘Product of Italy‘…the latter can use olives or oil trucked in from anywhere else.

  • Thanks for another great idea…so simple, yet so delicious!

  • That is a very scary article (The New Yorker). Since learning about the problems with Italian olive oil a few years back, I’ve been buying some Spanish olive oil which is surprisingly good lately.

    But it is the same with chocolate, I guess… You never know what you really are going to get….:)

  • Thanks for talking about bad olive oil. I never knew that but it sounds scary.

  • What a wonderful idea! This might sound strange, but do you think this procedure would work with tofu?

  • I love feta cheese, but I’m not sure if I’d like it covered in oil…I guess I’ll have to try it to find out :)

  • Marvin: I think it would be great with firm tofu, although I would keep it refrigerated at all times and use it within a week since tofu doesn’t last as long as feta.

    Stone & Flavia: After I got that horrid bottle of oil, I’m much more careful about what I buy. If you get oil from a reputable producer or source, that’s the best way to be assured of the purity. I learned a huge amount about olive oil by reading Olives by Mort Rosenblum. It was pretty eye-opening what’s passed off as ‘pure’ olive oil. And some of the big producers have really found a way to skirt labeling laws.

    Mort says the joke in the olive oil world is: “You should get your olive oil where the Italians get theirs…in Spain!”

    As mentioned, I use Puget for everyday cooking and they say a good, pure, everyday Italian olive oil is Colavita. I’ve had great Spanish oils too, although they don’t get the pr others oils do.

    For salads and such, I buy better oils from a huilerie…since I’m worth it!

    Hillary: Feta cheese covered in olive oil is great! All those Greeks, and their fabulous Greek salads, can’t be wrong.

  • Well, I am a huge fan of yours!

    I made your French Chocolate Macarons for a special French party I held this spring. We had just returned from Paris and eating our hearts out, and one of our favorite stops was Laduree!! I tried to bring some home for friends but they were a bit crushed, which was such a shame. But! I made yours and they were PERFECT!! I added a thin spread of Raspberry jam to some of them, delicious!

    I can’t wait to try your Marinated Feta recipe, it will be great for the homemade pizza’s we make on oh-audrey.com!

    oh-audrey.com
    Be brave, be inspiring, try something new�

  • This sounds like a great gift come Christmas time. Can’t wait to use it!

  • Spanish olive oil is great, and for the price, you can’t get better quality…and my Italian family acknowledges as much.

  • Ooops! Hit the send button too soon.

    I have been making something similar to this cheese preparation for ages…only I would use just fresh rosemary, hot red pepper flakes, salt, and yes, garlic, along with the “feta-type” cheese.

    I don’t know, David, what is your opinion on that web report on botulism and garlic? I grew up eating garlic preserved in oil, and everything was left out of refrigeration. The web report cites two cases of botulism; that really doesn’t sound statistically significant enough for me to give up the great flavor that garlic adds to that feta preparation.
    Wouldn’t the salt in feta also add to preservative/anti-microbial effects?

  • David, after I read what you had to say about various olive oils and variable labeling, I went immediately to my kitchen cupboard and pulled the two bottles that I had just recently purchased. I read and re-read the labels and my jaw virtually dropped. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Somewhat disheartened I then followed the links you had placed to the New Yorker article in particular. When I had finished reading all six pages I poured myself a cup of Vegetable oil and drank it!
    All kidding aside – I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful education about a product that I feel I really ought to have known more about. I will, in the future, be a lot more circumspect. Having learned such a valuable lesson from you – I then proceeded to follow your link to Health and Welfare Canada and read about the dangers of infusing garlic into oils. WoW – what a day this has been! Thanks again.

  • David,
    An idea just struck me: Could you melt this in a pot and use as a sauce…or is that silly?

  • David, have you tried the American olive oil produced by McEvoy Ranch? It’s organic, unfiltered, grown from trees imported from Tuscany, and $38 for 750 ml. They also sell other olive products and honey online.
    The chef from the ranch wrote the book “The Olive Harvest Cookbook.”
    A smaller company, Stella Cadente, makes their oil from trees that are McEvoy trees.

  • Hi Linda: Yes I have visited McEvoy in Petaluma, which is a great place to learn about and taste good American olive oil. (It can be found at iGourmet for $19.)

    They’re open to the public and give tours too!

    Tom: Botulism is pretty serious, although rare. Still, there’s enough evidence that it’s not safe to do except under controlled circumstances so I don’t advise anyone to do it, nor do I.

    Stone: Well, I think might indeed be silly ; )

    …And for those of you who live in France, G20 supermarché has Puget olive oil on sale right now for 5.29€ per liter.
    What a deal!

  • If I call something sparkling wine, the world knows that I’m talking about a Champagne-like beverage. If I can’t use the name Feta, what would I call a Feta-like cheese?

    BTW, best Feta I’ve ever had was one I tried decades ago from Bulgaria. I’ve never been able to find any since then. Argh!

  • Have you tried using Greek olive oil David?
    It flows in the streets of Astoria.
    A nice Feta worth trying is Kalathaki, a bit less salty, slightly creamier and from goat’s milk.
    yours looks heavenly!

  • CVilleBilly: Hmmm. I don’t know. I faced the same issue last night at dinner when I was trying to explain that this wasn’t really feta cheese, since I don’t think it was Greek. I guess soon enough, we’ll just call it sheeps-milk cheese, or something.

    Or like that fake crab, they call ‘krab’. A low-cal version could be called ‘fit-a’ vs a higher-fat one, ‘fat-a’?

    ParisBreakfasts: I haven’t had too many Greek olive oils…must be time for a trip to Greece!

  • david, you are preempting my latest round of WTSIM… savoury preserves! hope you can participate again – i have cheese on my mind as well!

  • This sounds … amazing!

    I’ve been obsessed with feta in the past couple weeks since I’ve come back from Greece, and would love to try out a new recipe. Lately what I’ve been doing is cooking a big slab in a lot of olive oil very gently over low heat until warm but not melted, and then dumping it all on a plate and sprinkling with fresh oregano — my brother’s girlfriend made this a lot in Greece, and it is SO good.

    Love the feta goodness.

  • I tried yesterday. It was delicious. I used Turkish cottage cheese. I think sometimes use fresh basil and black pepper.

  • I agree with CVilleBilly. Bulgarian “feta” is much smoother and less salty than the Greek fetas I have tried.The Bulgarian version is readily available in Middle Eastern stores here in Montreal.

    I haven’t tried it with your recipe yet, David. Not sure if the firmer texture of the Greek cheese would work better for this…