Fish & Shellfish
Side Dishes & Canapes
The herb rosemary grows prolifically in my garden and it never ceases to amaze me how hardy it is. Coming from the Mediterranean, you’d expect it to hate the cold and wet of an English winter but it always seems to sail through, no matter what the weather throws at it. In the photo below, taken last week, there’s still some snow from the recent downfall clinging to its needles and yet it looks just as perky as ever. I use it a lot, all year round, in the kitchen - it’s great in casseroles and other hearty dishes, and with roast veg or roast chicken. And it’s wonderful in this recipe that I turn to again and again because it’s useful for all sorts of different occasions: it makes a great appetiser to serve with drinks (hand round cocktail sticks to spear the cubes of cheese), it’s lovely mixed with salad leaves and served with crusty bread for lunch, and it’s fab stirred into a simple risotto to jazz it up too. (For my lovely, creamy mushroom risotto baked with feta: https://a-cooks-plot.blogspot.com/2018/06/kale-in-oven-baked-risotto.html)
I usually go on about how the kind of stock you use can make or break a dish but this time, it’s olive oil that has an impact on the final flavour. Any good extra virgin olive oil is fine but to really take the dish to the next level, it’s worth seeking out Taggiasca olive oil. From Liguria, on the border with France, it’s made from olives that have a very low acidity and the resulting oil is very smooth and sweet with no bitterness. I’ve only just discovered it and now I’m slightly obsessed with it. (I buy it from Amazon, as I haven’t yet found a supermarket that stocks it.)
In almost all recipes I prefer green olives to black ones, but there’s something about black olives that goes perfectly with the tangy saltiness of feta so I recommend using them in this dish.
Simply pour enough olive oil over the feta cubes to almost cover them, then add the rosemary (make sure it's submerged in the oil), olives and chilli and leave to stand for at least four hours before serving, stirring every now and again. (You can also leave in the fridge overnight, but bring it right back up to room temperature before serving.)