Cheese strikes, yet again. I love it when I make something and people love it and rave about it. I especially love it when what I made was simple and easy. I sometimes get insecure about making things that do not take a lot of time for guests. Will they judge me because I made something that took me literally five minutes to make. Me and my hang-ups, difficult to understand for my husband some. I mentioned this before, I like guests to feel welcome and enjoy the experience of coming over, and part of this includes good food.
In Rhode Island, I helped my parents throw a party for their friends. Party planning is something that gives me a high. (On a small scale, large 500 guest parties might cause me to go over the edge, but that’s another story.) The non-stop action and preparations that are required for a party are thrilling as well as terrifying. To ease this extreme range of emotions, it is important to have a few tricks up your sleeve. (Wow, I said a few tricks up your sleeve, am I becoming cliche!?)
Baked Feta definitely qualifies as a crowd pleaser. The night of the party, it was a big hit and was the first starter to be wiped clean. Some people do not love cheese in the same way as I do (my husband grrrr, though I must admit he has come a LONG way). But, even people who do not share in my enthusiasm for cheese enjoy this Baked Feta. Feta is known to have a salty pungency, but the baking process really mellows it out. I use a sheep’s or goat’s milk feta of good quality because I have tried this with average supermarket feta and it does not have the same consistency or smoothness. The sundried tomatoes, and nuts, capers, and thyme ooze together in perfect unison. I also add a drizzle of honey to cut the saltiness and though most could not discern the honey in the baked feta, they could certainly notice its absence if I did not include it. The honey and almonds caramelize together, almost forming a candied crunch on top. Enjoy this with some crusty bread, Greek pita, or crackers.
Baked Feta with Sundried Tomatoes, Almonds, Capers, and Thyme
Serves 6 (as a starter)
10 ounces of food quality Feta, sliced into 1/4″ thickness
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, julienned
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
10 springs of thyme, left whole
2 tablespoons honey
2-3 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a quiche dish and lay the feta slice son the bottom and assemble the sundried tomatoes, almonds, capers, and thyme on top in an attractive way. Drizzle with the honey, extra-virgin olive oil, and the lemon juice. Add a few cranks of freshly ground pepper over the top. Bake the dish in the oven for about 15 minutes or until bubbly and oozing. Switch the oven to broil for about a minute, stay near the oven because the thyme can burn easily. Remove from the oven and serve hot with warmed Greek pita.