In winter, feta becomes an orphan, a forgotten cheese. Unless you’re basking in the Greek Isles surrounded by plump tomatoes and cukes, you skip over feta in favor of triple crèmes, butterscotchy Goudas, balsa wood boxes of Epoisses. Am I right?
I’m here to negotiate in favor of feta. If you bake it with honey and dates, you’ve got an easy appetizer, a succulent puff of briny softness, a winter warmer, if you will. I love an island of baked feta accompanied by dried fruit, a handful of walnuts, a sprig of thyme, and some homemade pita chips.
This is a good dish to serve on a cold afternoon when houseguests are restless, or it works well before a big dinner (especially if you’re serving lamb) when you need to distract people away from the kitchen. It looks impressive, and the combination of sweet and salty puts everyone in a good mood.
Most of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand – even the feta, which holds up in the fridge for a year or more as long as you store it in brine. Give the cheese a quick rinse to wash some of the salt off, and put this dish together in twenty minutes.
I like to bake my own pita chips; they keep well if you make them a few days in advance and store them in an airtight bag, or you can make them alongside the feta and serve them hot. This recipe requires a couple of steps, but they’re simple. Just make sure to keep your eye on the broiler so that the honey-glazed feta doesn’t burn.
Note: Greek feta, made with sheep’s and goat’s milk, is firm and will hold its shape. I’ve also made this recipe with pure goat’s milk feta which is softer; the taste is exquisite, but it tends to melt more quickly, so don’t bake it too long.
Baked Feta with Dates and Honey
For pita chips:
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