A cost effective starter that tastes as delightful as it looks and takes minutes to prepare.
When I entertain, I typically put out an antipasto or mezze spread as a starter. I love cheese, but when I’m hosting for 20 people I can’t really afford to provide a spread of French bries and Buffalo Mozzarella. But I also feel like I need to do better than slapping down a block of tasty cheese.
So I often serve up this marinated feta which is really cost effective, looks so fresh and pretty and tastes fantastic. In Australia, feta is good value and you can get it prepackaged or by weight at delicatessens. I use feta in a lot in things like salads, stuffings and omelettes but I don’t eat it plain or on crackers because I find it too sharp. At least, this is the case with ordinary cow’s milk feta. Deluxe feta, like Persian Feta, is creamier and less salty and delicious eaten as is.
In Australia there are two main types of feta – Greek feta which is quite firm and crumbly, and Danish feta which is much softer, almost as creamy as cream cheese. Both are around the same price. This recipe is suitable to use with any type of feta, but I like to make it with Danish feta because you can spread it on bread and crackers.
There are so many ways you can make this recipe and you can use whatever herbs you want – I used thyme, parsley, chilli and lemon. I infused the olive oil with garlic simply by leaving a crushed garlic (crushed using the side of a knife, not minced) in the oil overnight. Sometimes I marinate the feta overnight, with the garlic and all the herbs. But my preference is to add the herbs on the day of serving so the colour and taste is fresher. You could also use a store bought infused olive oil, though for cost reasons I don’t do that. I’ve provided directions in the recipe for a variety of ways to make this, and I’m sure you will think of some ways yourself!
You can actually buy marinated feta, but honestly, when you can make it yourself at home for a fraction of the cost, why would you? This is a great versatile appetiser idea so you don’t break the bank for your next dinner party!
- 8oz/250g feta cheese, preferably Danish or another creamy type (see notes)
- ½ cup extra virgin oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tbsp herbs, finely chopped. (I used parsley and thyme leaves)
- 1 birds eye chilli, finely chopped (or any fresh red chilli of choice)
- 1//4 tsp lemon rind, finely grated
- Black pepper
- Infuse olive oil with garlic (optional): use the side of your knife to smash the garlic cloves and combine with the olive oil. Cover, refrigerate and leave for as long as possible - a few hours or preferably overnight.
- If you do not have the time to do Step 1, just mince 1 garlic clove (small) and stir into the olive oil.
- Cut the feta into bite size cubes - about 1cm / ⅓ inch.
- Place feta into serving dish, scatter over herbs, chilli, lemon rind and a grind of black pepper.
- Pour over olive oil. Serve with crusty bread.
2. You can make this ahead by placing all the ingredients into an airtight container and storing it in the fridge for a week. While this infuses the feta with better flavour, I prefer to assemble it on the day as the herbs are fresher. Over time the herbs in the oil will lose their colour - even left overnight they are not quite as bright.