Baked Feta Cheese with Olives
Note: This recipe is designed for a wood oven, but the dish can be made in a 450-degree conventional oven.
1 1/2 cups mixed olives, pitted or not, in brine
1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from about 1 orange)
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
16 ounces French sheep's milk feta, cut into 1-inch cubes
Crostini, for serving
1. Drain the olives and place them in a small bowl. Add thyme, zest, juice, pepper flakes, fennel seeds and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside. This can be made several hours in advance and held at room temperature.
2. Oil a 10-inch ovenproof skillet with the remaining teaspoon of oil. Add the feta and pour the olives and seasonings over the top. Place in the oven and cook for about 8 minutes. If using a wood oven, rotate the pan half way through the cooking time. The olive mixture should be bubbling and the cheese warm and soft. The feta cheese will hold its shape and become "spreadable."
-- Andrea Mugnaini, Mugnaini Cooking School