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Warm Feta With Tomato, Olive and Pepper Salad

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“This super-easy and fast dish is a play on saganaki, a typical tavern dish where you melt cheese by grilling, broiling or pan-frying,” says Michael Psilakis in “How to Roast a Lamb: New Classic Greek Cooking.” Omit the optional sardines and it’s purely vegetarian.

Warm Feta With Tomato, Olive and Pepper Salad

1 small Spanish or sweet onion, thickly sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
9 caperberries, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons capers
9 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
9 cracked green olives, pitted and torn
9 Kalamata olives, pitted and torn
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2 fire-roasted red bell peppers, home-roasted or store-bought, roughly chopped
9 Greek sardines or white anchovies, diced (optional)
9 small, picked sprigs dill
9 small, picked sprigs parsley
9 leaves fresh basil
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
12 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 warmed or toasted pita breads, cut into wedges

Brush the onion slices with a little olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper. On a hot grill pan or in a cast-iron skillet, grill the onion until tender and slightly char-marked. Separate into rings.

In a large bowl, combine the grilled onion, caperberries, capers, tomatoes, olives, red onion, roasted peppers, sardines or anchovies (if using), dill, parsley and basil. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice, season with kosher salt and pepper, sprinkle with oregano and toss the salad until evenly coated.

[amazon-product]0316041211[/amazon-product]Scatter the feta evently over the base of an ovenproof baking dish or gratin. Warm the feta until slightly softened, 30 seconds in a microwave or under a broiler for 3 minutes. Top with the salad and serve with pita wedges. Scoop feta and salad onto a wedge with a knife and eat out of hand.

Variations:

  • Grill a couple of sirloin steaks and after resting, scatter with some crumbled feta. Then make the salad as above and pile it on top of the steak.
  • Grill a pounded, seasoned chicken breast and top it with feta, broil to soften – but not melt – the feta, and top with this salad.

Makes 10 to 12 servings as a meze, or appetizer.

Adapted from “How to Roast a Lamb: New Classic Greek Cooking,” by Michael Psilakis

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