Amanda & Merrill

Roasted Feta with Thyme Honey: 2007

by:
November 26, 2010

Roasted Feta with Thyme Honey

- Amanda

Each week, over the past few weeks, I've featured recipes from different eras that appear in The Essential New York Times Cookbook. This is my last installment -- enjoy!

This is not the most beautiful hors d’oeuvres – it emerges from the oven with a war-torn look, your casserole strewn with singed oil and blackened burned bits. But the abuse of the dish is all in the service of the feta, whose honey-slicked exterior turns to savory candy and whose interior softens to custard. Plus the recipe is such a breeze – it’s a great hors d’oeuvre to include when you have a more ambitious meal to follow.

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Cooking Notes:

If you can’t find thyme honey – I couldn’t – use a mild flavored honey like acacia and warm it with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Use a dish that’s just large enough to hold the cheese, otherwise the oil will pool on the open surfaces and could catch fire under your broiler.

I’d serve the feta not with pita, but with a rustic cracker or thinly sliced country bread, toasted.

Serves 4 to 6

  • One 8-ounce slab Greek feta, blotted dry
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Greek thyme honey, or other honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek-style pita bread, toasted and cut into wedges
  • Heirloom tomatoes, roasted beets, nuts or pickled vegetables (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Select a small oven-to-table earthenware dish or a small ovenproof sauté pan lined with aluminum foil to help transfer the cheese to a plate after roasting. Place the feta in the dish and cover with the olive oil. Bake until the cheese is soft and springy to the touch but not melted, about 8 minutes.

2. Preheat the broiler. Heat the honey in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water until it is fluid enough to be spread with a pastry brush and then paint the surface of the feta with it. Broil until the top of the cheese browns and just starts to bubble. Season with black pepper. Serve immediately with pita wedges and, if desired, sliced heirloom tomatoes, roasted beets, nuts or pickled vegetables.

Footnote:

September 9, 2007: “The Way We Eat; Olympic Dinners” by Sara Dickerman.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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27 Comments

fearlessem January 9, 2012
Just made this over the weekend for a dinner party, and it was a huge hit. I made it in individual ramekins and served it with slices of warmed baguette. Next time I'll go heavier on the pepper and add some fresh thyme or chili flakes at the end. But all in all, a no-fuss winner!
 
Amanda H. January 9, 2012
Yeah, it's very adaptable -- thanks for the report back!
 
muchi November 29, 2010
Thyme is known as the "symbol of activity." Greeks relish honey from the thyme abundant Mt. Hymettus. It is a great compliment to tell an Athenian that he/she smells like thyme. No wonder thyme honey is so desirable.
 
THEToughCookie November 28, 2010
This looks delightful. I have some castelrosso here....might try roasting a bit of it w/chestnut honey.
 
isabelita November 28, 2010
I plan to visit Titan in Astoria where I purchase feta cheese and other goodies. I plan to look for thyme honey and will let you know what I find. This recipe sounds heavenly.
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Have never been to Titan -- bet you can get some great feta out there!
 
Savorykitchen November 28, 2010
Titan (say it "tee TAHN" not "TIE ten") is a great resource. My Dad lives in Athens and when he's visiting in NJ he goes there for his ingredient fix. If you can't find honey labeled as thyme honey, just get Attiki ("ah tea KEY") - you'll love it.
 
Savorykitchen November 28, 2010
Adding to the [Greek] chorus ... this is also really good on the grill - heat a small skillet on the grill and then add the ingredients. The crispy-crunchy happens on the bottom of the pan. Makes a fantastic addition to shish kebab or a grilled leg of lamb.
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Great idea -- definitely trying that in the spring.
 
amysarah November 27, 2010
I do a similar thing with halloumi (traditional feta-ish sheep's - or goat's - milk cheese from nearby Cyprus.) I just slice and sear it in a very hot pan until it browns and heats through, then drizzle it with hot chili oil. (I believe it was Nigella Lawson who suggested the chili oil - can't recall which book.) But honey sounds like a delicious alternative with the cheese's salty taste.<br /><br />Halloumi doesn't melt and the texture is unusual - sort of squeaky - it might be one of those things you love or hate. Anyway, your feta and honey recipe sounds right up my alley.
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Sounds like a cross between feta and those squeaky Midwest cheese curds.
 
Oui, C. November 27, 2010
Feta is one of my favorite cheeses, I sprinkle it on everything! Love the idea of a "lighter" warm addition to a cheese service, baked brie can be so heavy. Thx - S
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
That's it -- it's like a modern version of baked brie! It's more to the point -- creamy but sharp enough not to weigh you down.
 
TheWimpyVegetarian November 27, 2010
I love this! It just went on the menu for a christmas dinner party i'm having in a couple weeks. It looks so delicious!
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
I'm going to make it over the holidays as well.
 
Kevin November 26, 2010
I had a Lebanese friend who fried feta in butter and served it with honey on pita for breakfast. Awesome.
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Going to try that -- thanks.
 
fiveandspice November 26, 2010
This looks simply amazing!!! Also, I'm loving seeing the dishes you choose to highlight because the book itself is so incredibly packed with remarkable recipes, it's wonderful getting to use these food52 features as guideposts. Thanks!
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
You're welcome. This one was among a list of ideas I had from the 2000s, and Merrill and Kristen chose it.
 
mrslarkin November 26, 2010
Easy, elegant and delicious. I love this one.
 
jblock November 26, 2010
This sounds de-lish. I often roast the feta quickly with olive oil and minced garlic, then take it out and squeeze lemon juice all over. I will try this one soon!
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Thanks for this -- I like the lemon idea.
 
drbabs November 26, 2010
I love it, too. And after the craziness of cooking for Thanksgiving, I love having something simple to make as an appetizer for the coming holiday parties.
 
Amanda H. November 26, 2010
Yes, it's a great last-minute appetizer, and not as heavy as most cheese hors d'oeuvres.
 
Kitchen B. November 26, 2010
Oh LOVE it. The idea of cooking feta is new to me and this is the second recipe I have bookmarked - the first is Nigel Slater's pan fried feta with mixed chillies and cilantro, if I remember correctly. Gorgeous and the headnotes are a perfect description!
 
Amanda H. November 26, 2010
I've never seen that one -- will have to look it up!
 
Kitchen B. November 26, 2010
Here's a link to Nigel's recipe http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chilli_feta_17732