I ate this marinated feta, olives and lemon appetizer at a party recently and loved it so much I had to move myself away from the dish. A quick search online turned up this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine and it was even better than what I remembered eating at the party. That might be because rather than use regular lemons, I used a preserved lemon that I had made from my meager harvest of lemons from the indoor lemon tree I have nurtured for years (they were huge though). If you’ve never made preserved lemons, they’re a cinch to make with just kosher salt and lemons. The flavor is so much better than regular lemons, for recipes like this one. I’m looking forward to using them in more savory and even sweet dishes. You should give it a try. They keep forever in the fridge once they’re “cured.” There are many recipes online, but I used this recipe from Serious Eats, that also adds a bit of sugar.
But even if you don’t have preserved lemons (they’re also available to purchase online and in some specialty stores), you can use regular lemons from the store. The recipe comes together in a snap. Just heat the olives, garlic, lemon peel and hot pepper flakes in olive oil for about five minutes and pour over some crumbled feta cheese.
The recipe from Bon Appetit called for heating the bread in the oven for a bit, but I found that it’s much better just to use fresh bread, untoasted. It will be much easier to soak up the juices and to pick up the olives and feta when the bread is soft, rather than toasted and hard. Dig in and you may find yourself doubling the recipe the next time you’re invited to bring an appetizer somewhere.
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- 5 ounces drained Castelvetrano, Cerignola, or other unpitted green olives
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 preserved lemon, use only the peel, not the flesh (A regular lemon is fine)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 7 ounces feta
- Crusty bread (for serving)
- Crush the olives and garlic partially on a board, using your palm or the flat end of a knife.
- Place the olive oil in a pan and add the olives, garlic cloves, lemon peel and red pepper flakes.
- Cook on low heat for about five minutes until the garlic starts to brown a bit.
- Remove from heat and extract the gaarlic from the pan.
- Let it cool slightly.
- Crumble the feta into a serving bowl.
- Pour the olive oil mixture over the olive mixture and stir to combine.
- Serve with torn pieces of bread.