Whenever I browse the selection of cheeses at my local market, there's one thing I always think, "gosh cheese is expensive." Sometimes I'll indulge on a pricey artisanal cheese, but the majority of the time I'm that girl looking at the weight-to-price ratio, searching for the cheapest chunk of cheese. Upon the suggestion of a very friendly cheese monger, I've started purchasing cheese from regions that aren't known for cheese production — like Parmesan from Argentina or in the case of this recipe, feta from Bulgaria.
It's a more affordable way to try a wide variety of cheese. Although the Greeks take claim of feta cheese, it's also produced and consumed in Bulgaria where it's known as sirene. The flavor is similar to Greek feta, but the Bulgarian version is saltier with a more pungent smell. To find out how I turned the cheese into a quick and easy appetizer, read more.
Inspired by a recipe in Bon Appétit, I marinated the feta in a mixture of olive oil, shallots, basil, and lemon thyme and let it sit in the fridge for two days, until the cheese was infused with the herbs. While I was worried it marinaded for too long, the resulting cheese was creamy and herby with a light lemony zing. The final stuffed cherry tomato bite is absolutely divine.
1 7-to 8-ounce package Bulgarian feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small handful lemon thyme
6-8 fresh basil leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup or more extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound large cherry tomatoes*
12 pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
freshly ground pepper
- Toss cubed feta, shallot, herbs, and red pepper flakes (if using) in resealable jar or container. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fill with enough olive oil to submerge the cheese, herbs, and shallot. Close the lid tightly and place in the refrigerator. Marinate for 1-2 days.
- Cut 12 tomatoes crosswise in half. Scoop out tomato pulp with melon baller or small spoon. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on serving plate.
- Stuff hollowed cherry tomatoes with marinated feta. Slide in olive half alongside cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
*I could only find small cherry tomatoes, so I made do with those.
- Appetizers, Vegetables
- Mediterranean/Middle Eastern