Pickled Feta with Cerignola Olives and Strawberries from 'Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese'
Because I get to test all kinds of recipes in my home kitchen, my fridge is full of a rotating cast of ingredients. Sometimes it's overflowing with seasonal vegetables, sometimes it's piled high with steak and chicken, and other times—like this week—it's full of cheese. But two things I always keep around are feta cheese and wide variety of pickles. Both of these ingredients perk up leftovers, salads, and the occasional lackluster recipe. But I'd never thought to take these two kitchen stalwarts and combine them.
Thank goodness Tenaya Darlington thought of it for me and told me how in her new cheese-centric cookbook, Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese. She first packs cubed feta into a brine of coriander, mustard seed, cilantro, shallot, and plenty of vinegar. Then she lets it soak up all that tang for five days or so, before tossing the cubes in a salad with strawberries, olives, and spinach.
Why I picked this recipe: I needed no excuse to combine two of my favorite things: pickles and feta.
What worked: The spiced vinegar amped up feta's already briny qualities, infusing it with tang and vigor.
What didn't: No problems in sight.
Suggested tweaks: You can use any feta you'd like here. Keep in mind that softer fetas, like French or Bulgarian, will crumble into smaller pieces, while firmer Greek-style fetas will remain in cubes. Since this is a refrigerator pickle, you can also tweak the pickle brine however you'd like. Fennel and lemon would make a lovely alternative to the coriander and mustard. You can also eat the pickled feta on its own if you'd like to skip the green stuff.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.