Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for cooking with feta (2024)

I knew I was on to a good thing when my new test kitchen colleague Katja Tausig started talking about and cooking with feta. For a team whose mantra might well be “Everything’s better with feta!”, her enthusiasm, and desire to dedicate a whole column to this briny, tangy, salty cheese, meant that the fit was complete. So here’s to welcoming Katja and to celebrating feta: crumble it, bake it, blitz it, stuff with it, showcase it.

Baked feta and dill frittata (pictured top)

If ever there was a way to feature feta, it’s this frittata, where a block of the cheese sits perfectly in the middle. I consider it a breakfast dish, but it also works just as well as a summer lunch or as part of a picnic spread.

Prep 5 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4-6

8 large eggs
Fine sea salt and black pepper
200g feta
50ml olive oil
1½ tsp cumin seeds
, coarsely ground in a mortar
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (180g)
120g baby spinach
45g dill
, finely chopped
¼ tsp aleppo chilli
½ lemon
, cut into 4 wedges

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Break the eggs into a medium bowl, add a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, whisk well and set aside.

Use a ruler to measure the thickness of the block of feta – if it’s thicker than 1½cm, carefully trim it down to this thickness and crumble any offcuts into the egg mixture. Keep the rest of the feta block whole.

Place a small (roughly 17cm-wide), nonstick, ovenproof saute pan on a medium-high heat and add 45ml oil. Once it’s hot, add a teaspoon of cumin, cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the chopped onion and a quarter-teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for three minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the spinach and all but a tablespoon of the dill, and cook for two minutes, until the spinach has wilted and the dill is fragrant.

Pour the beaten egg into the pan and stir to combine with the onion, spinach and herbs. Nestle the feta in the centre of the egg mixture, so it’s three-quarters submerged, then drizzle the remaining teaspoon of oil and the remaining half-teaspoon of cumin over the top. Transfer the pan to the oven, bake for 15 minutes, then remove and turn the oven grill to its highest setting. Once the grill is hot, pop the pan on the top shelf of the oven closest to the grill and cook for two minutes until the frittata is golden brown and the top of the feta slightly coloured.

Using a spatula, release the frittata from the bottom of the pan, then carefully slide it on to a serving plate. Sprinkle over the remaining dill and the aleppo chilli, and serve warm or at room temperature with the lemon wedges on the side.

Feta-stuffed koftas with grilled peppers

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for cooking with feta (1)

You can marinate the peppers and shape the koftas a day ahead, if you like, leaving just the grilling to be done before serving. Serve with rice or roast potatoes and a fresh green salad.

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4-6

6 green çarliston peppers, or another type of long, pointed pepper such as romano (360g)
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 lemon
, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp juice, the other half cut into 4 wedges
Fine sea salt and black pepper
1 small onion, peeled and quartered (120g)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
25g fresh coriander, chopped, plus 2 tbsp extra, finely chopped
400g lamb mince (at least 15% fat, ideally)
25g panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp aleppo chilli
, plus extra to finish
¾ tsp paprika
180g feta
, cut into 8 equal squares
2 tbsp olive oil

Put a large frying pan for which you have a lid on a high heat. Once hot, lay in the whole peppers and weigh them down with a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Char for five minutes on each side, then take off the heat and set aside until they’re cool enough to handle. Put five of the peppers in a bowl, add the vinegar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and leave to marinate. Set aside the pan for now.

Pull off and discard the stem from the remaining pepper, then put the pepper in the small bowl of a food processor with the onion, garlic and 25g chopped coriander. Blitz to a smooth paste, then scrape into a large bowl and add the lamb, panko, lemon zest, cumin, aleppo chilli, half a teaspoon of paprika, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and mix well to combine.

Divide the lamb mixture into eight 70g balls. Put one ball in your hand and flatten it to make a disc. Place a square of feta in the centre, then wrap the meat around it to encase the cheese. Shape the kofta into a torpedo shape, squeezing the ends so they’re slightly pointed. Repeat with the remaining lamb mix and cheese.

Put the oil in the same frying pan on a high heat, then, once it’s hot, put in the koftas, making sure they’re spaced well apart (if the pan isn’t big enough, you may have to fry them in batches). Cook the koftas for eight minutes, turning them every two minutes, so they cook and colour evenly. Add the remaining quarter-teaspoon of paprika, cover the pan and leave the koftas to cook for two minutes more, until cooked through.

Transfer the koftas to a platter. Spoon two tablespoons of the oil from the frying pan into the pepper bowl, add half the remaining chopped coriander and stir to combine. Once they’re cool enough to touch, tear open the koftas and spoon the marinated peppers over the top of them. Sprinkle over the last tablespoon of chopped coriander and a generous pinch of aleppo chilli, and serve with the lemon wedges.

Spring salad with buttermilk feta dressing

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for cooking with feta (2)

All the various elements here can be prepared in advance and put together just before serving.

Prep 10 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4-6

300g new potatoes (about 6-8), scrubbed clean
100g frozen (or fresh) peas
100g frozen (or fresh) broad beans
2 baby gem lettuce
, cut lengthways into 6 wedges
½ tsp aleppo chilli flakes
10g pecorino
(or parmesan), finely grated

For the feta dressing
120g feta, crumbled into roughly 2cm pieces
1 tsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar
140ml buttermilk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then juiced, to get 4 tsp
Fine sea salt and black pepper

For the herb oil
10g mint leaves
20g parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
, peeled and finely grated
60ml olive oil

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough well salted water to cover them by about 3cm. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the tip of a knife goes through them easily. Add the peas and broad beans to the pan, cook for another two minutes, then drain, rinse under cold water to stop the veg cooking any more, then set aside to drain.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: put all the ingredients bar the lemon zest in a small bowl, add a half-teaspoon salt and toss to combine.

Put all the ingredients for the herb oil, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper in a food processor, blitz until finely chopped, then pour into a large bowl and add the baby gem, peas and broad beans. Lightly smash the potatoes in your hands, add these to the bowl, too, then toss to coat.

Transfer the salad to a large platter, but hold back a few tablespoons of the peas and broad beans. Drizzle the feta dressing all over the top, then scatter on the reserved peas and broad beans. Sprinkle on the chilli, lemon zest and pecorino, and serve at room temperature.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for cooking with feta (2024)
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