Tuesday, April 22, 2008

baked feta with roasted tomatoes and greek olives

I've been craving Greek food ever since Michael Psilakis became New York's most-favored chef this winter with the nod from Food & Wine for "Best New Chef". I've visited his Upper West Side restaurant, Kefi, and loved it both times (and reviewed it on my former blog, Goûter), and I am dying to try Anthos. He must be doing something right, because Anthos is one of the only two Michelin-rated Greek restaurants in the world. Then, last night during my weekly romp around Whole Foods, I found the inspiration I needed to make my own Greek meal when I found a big, fresh, milky block of feta cheese.

I imagined this recipe all the way home on the subway, and it came out just as I had imagined. The ingredients in my Baked Feta with Greek Roasted Tomato Salad are simple; the creamy, salty feta cheese is complimented perfectly by the sweet, juicy red tomato, tangy red onion, and briney olives. With a drizzle of fine olive oil and a sprinkle of spices and lemon rind, this dish takes simple ingredients and makes a delicious Greek gourmet snack that anyone can make -- whether or not you're Michael Psilakis.


Serves 2 as an appetizer

1 block Feta Cheese
1 large Tomato
1/2 small Red Onion
Greek Kalamata and green olives
Fresh Oregano, minced
Lemon rind
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees. Put a small roasting pan (or better yet, a clay pot) in the oven to warm.

Cut the tomato into large chunks. Slice the onion into paper-thin, half-moon slices, and separate. Toss together with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Take out warmed pan from oven. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the bottom, and place the feta block inside. Drizzle the top of the cheese with olive oil, and sprinkle with fresh oregano, lemon rind and pepper. Arrange tomato salad alongside the feta inside the pan.

Place pan in oven and cook until cheese begins to sizzle, about 7-10 minutes. (If using a clay pot, cook with cover on.) Once the cheese and tomatoes have become soft, transfer entire pan to broiler (remove lid if using clay pot), and broil on high, about 2-3 minutes, until cheese begins to brown.

Serve immediately with warm pita bread. Shots of ouzo and occasional plate-breaking are optional.

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