If you’re looking for a way to add even more flavour into your cheese and impress your friends with something a bit different on the cheeseboard, then you can’t go wrong with a jar of delicious marinated feta.
It also makes a great gift for a cheese-loving friend. The best thing about it is you can personalise it with your own favourite additions to suit to your individual taste. Store the cheese in sterilised Kilner or clip top glass jars in the fridge for a couple of days before serving to let the flavours really mingle. The jars also add to the presentation if you’re giving them away as presents. They’ll keep in the fridge for about two weeks as long as everything is submerged in oil – but it never lasts that long in the Queen Brie household because it’s so darn good.
Not a fan of feta? Why not substitute for mozzarella pearls or goats cheese? Hard cheeses don’t work as well, ideally it needs to be something that will soak up the oil and other flavours in the jar.
Marinated cheese makes a great addition to any cheeseboard. Remember to take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to serve it, to allow it to come to room temperature. No one likes chilly cheese and you won’t get as much of the flavour if the cheese is cold.
It’s also delicious on toast with some mashed avocado or with hummus and roasted peppers. Or why not stir it into a super simple pasta dish with some homemade pesto and fresh basil? Once you’ve eaten the cheese, any leftover oil can be used in cooking, as a dressing for salads or mopped up with some good quality crusty bread.
Looking for some inspiration? Why not combine some of the ingredients suggested below, or just add your own favourite flavours – there’s no right or wrong here! You can also toast off some of the ingredients in a dry pan before adding them to the oil to add even more of a flavour hit. A word of caution when roasting chillies – they can smoky a bit and give off fumes that can cause you to cough. Toasting them in a pan with a lid is advisable, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
- Oil – olive is the classic here, but why not try chilli oil for a bit of a kick or lemon oil for a more subtle flavour?
- Herbs (dried or fresh) – bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, basil or dill are all great options.
- Spices – (seeds or powder) – fennel, coriander, cumin, paprika or nigella seeds are some of my favourites.
- Chillies – dried or fresh, whole or flakes. If you’re after a smoky taste, opt for chipotle or ancho (the dried version of the poblano pepper), for a fruitier flavour go for aleppo or guajillo. If you’re after something more fiery you could try habanero but use sparingly, you don’t want to mask the flavour of the cheese.
- Peppercorns – you could go for black, the fruitier pink version, green (fresher and lighter than black peppercorns), for a slightly numbing heat go for Szechuan or why not try a mixed variety?
- Lemon – if using the zest , peel off a few strips from the lemon, making sure to leave behind as much of the white bitter pith as possible. You can also add the juice to the mixture.
- Vinegar – helps to cut through the richness of the oil and cheese but also acts as a preservative. Red, white, sherry, balsamic or apple cider vinegar are all great options. If using vinegar, make sure you mix it throughly with the oil to ensure it emulsifies before adding the rest of the ingredients.
A note about garlic
If not stored correctly, raw garlic and oil can release nasty toxins that in some cases can cause botulism. Roasting the garlic cloves can help to reduce the risk, but if you’re worried, just leave garlic out of your recipe.
To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Remove any of the extra papery outer skin from the garlic bulb, but make sure the bulb stays intact. Use a sharp knife to cut off the top 1/4 inch off the bulb, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap the bulb in kitchen foil. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cloves are soft. Remove the cloves from the skins, trying to keep them whole and allow to cool. Make sure you store the garlic and oil in the fridge to avoid it spoiling.