Recipe Road Test: Spicy Tomato-Marinated Feta from "Nothing Fancy"

Seira Wilson on October 30, 2019

NothingFancy_SpicyTomatoMarinatedFeta_LG.jpgLet me just start by saying that I'm obsessed with this recipe.  I loved Alison Roman's last cookbook, Dining In, so I was very excited to lay my hands on her latest, Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over, and starting cooking from it right away.  Everything I've made has been fantastic.  So flavorful and bright. Complex flavors without complex ingredients--stunning simplicity that Roman does so well. Nothing Fancy is about having friends over, serving a meal or snacks alongside a delicious cocktail or a bottle of wine.  Taking it easy and having a good time with good food. Amen, sister.

For the first dinner I hosted using all recipes from this cookbook, I made the Spicy Tomato-Marinated Feta for people to munch on when they arrived, and I left it on the table into the main meal (Spicy Pork Meatballs in Brothy Tomatoes and Toasted Fennel and one of the best salads I've ever had: Iceberg with Pecorino, Crushed Olives, and Pickled Chile).  The plate I served the feta dish on was literally wiped clean by the end, as guests used their bread to soak up not only the meatball sauce but also the remains of the spicy goodness from the feta even after the cheese itself was long gone.

SpicyTomatoFeta.jpgI've made this snack three times since then (a picture of a most recent serving at my house at left, clearly I've gotten pretty liberal with the sauce at this point) and it's now my go-to for guests. Easy ingredients--the first time I made it I didn't have harissa on hand but Roman offers the alternative of red pepper flakes which was delicious--and it can be ready and marinating in about 15 minutes. 

Super simple to make ahead and it's a total crowd pleaser.  But don't just take my word for it--below is the recipe, excerpted from Nothing Fancy, and I encourage you to give it a try this weekend or the next time you're having people over (it's great for a weeknight, too!).

*Nothing Fancy is an editors' pick for the best cookbooks of October

Spicy Tomato-Marinated Feta
Serves 6 to 8

½ cup olive oil, plus more as needed
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 small-ish (or 1 medium) ripe tomatoes (4 to 6 ounces total), coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons harissa paste, or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
8 ounces feta cheese, sliced into ¼-inch slabs or ½-inch cubes

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, swirling the skillet occasionally, until the garlic is tender and nearly golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve broken down into a thick, chunky sauce, 5 to 8 minutes.

3.  Add the harissa and continue to cook until the sauce is a bit more paste-like, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil until it becomes savory and spoonable.

4. Place the feta in a serving dish or bowl and pour the tomato mixture over. Let sit at least 10 minutes, or up to a week in advance, refrigerated.

Drizzle with more olive oil before serving.

DO AHEAD Feta can be marinated up to 1 week ahead, tightly wrapped, and refrigerated.

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