Today: So your house isn't filled with decorative candles and throw pillows. With a recipe for 15-minute baked feta, you can be a great host regardless.
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All I’ve learned from reading lifestyle blogs and stalking fancy people on Instagram suggests that being an adult involves a lot of last-minute guests to your house. “I always have a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge in case someone drops by!” notes a woman less than 10 years older than me but seemingly light years ahead in hospitality know-how. “When I’m about to have company, I run out to the garden and whip up a quick bouquet for the table,” a caption reads, beneath a picture of a stunning floral arrangement. I look out of my own kitchen window: Instead of a hydrangea bush, I see two pigeons and a dumpster. Probably not ideal for a tablescape. It’s amazing to me that these sparkly adults have time, in the five minutes before their friends arrive, to do anything other than shove dirty clothes in the closet and half-heartedly make the bed. I barely remember to Febreeze, let alone “light a delicately scented candle in each room” (also, I only have two rooms).
What I lack in hostess graces and decorative savvy I make up for with my ability to feed. I have a super-simple pancake recipe committed to memory—and bacon in the freezer—for overnight guests; I’m an ace with funky popcorn toppings for late-night post-bar stop-bys; and I can throw a cinnamon-y fruit crumble together in my sleep. If you are a last-minute guest in my home, you will probably find a stack of dirty dishes in the sink and something good to eat on the stove.
This baked olive, tomato, and feta dip is ideal for a pre-dinner hang out in your living room. The strong Greek flavors and cheesy bite won’t ruin anyone’s appetite but will definitely tide the group over until your reservation. Five minutes of assembly time means you can get the dip into the oven and wipe down your kitchen counters before anyone arrives, and 15 minutes later, you’ll have melty, salty, spreadable perfection. Coincidentally, 15 minutes is also how long it takes to realize you don’t have any crackers and run to the bodega to fix that. Have a guest keep and eye on the oven, and take the stairs two at a time.
1/4 cup tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought (a teeny amount! so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom! a perfect use for leftovers or the dregs of the jar) 8 ounces block of feta cheese, drained 1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives 1 1/3 cups halved cherry tomatoes 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley A few turns fresh ground pepper Toast, crackers, pita, and/or a spoon for eating
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).