Slice of Life

After the ancient Greeks' contributions to philosophy and architecture, feta cheese is one of Greece’s most renowned exports. The integrity of the dairy delight is taken so seriously that the country took steps to patent the name, and, after a 16-year battle, the European Union’s highest court in 2002 ruled that the designation belonged only to feta made in Greece.

From modern Greek, tyri pheta, meaning “cheese slice,” the diet staple dates back thousands of years to when it was made with unpasteurized goat or sheep’s milk (or a combination of both) by mountain shepherds. The curdled milk is separated and drained into a mold, usually square or triangular—ideal for slicing after it is brined for two months. The result is a cheese saltier than most others with a unique tangy taste and creamy finish. Feta comprises about 40 percent of all cheese consumed in Greece, and it is used in everything from salads to desserts. Grand Circle Cruise Line executive chef Darko Angeleski shared his recipe for baked feta, just one of the many dishes travelers are likely to sample on our new Small Ship CruiseTour, Turkish Coastal Voyage: Greek Islands, Istanbul & Athens.


Baked Feta

This warm appetizer calls for marinating the cheese overnight with other fresh, local ingredients including rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. The wait is well worth it, as the baked feta develops a soft, pillowy texture and a golden brown crust. It’s often eaten as meze, one of several small plates served in the Mediterranean, where you’d share it with a small number of passengers as you relax and gaze at the glistening waters of the Aegean from the M/V Artemis. Our 50-passenger Mediterranean small ships are able to navigate into smaller ports, offering travelers more unique experiences that larger ships cannot—including the freshest local cuisine and ingredients.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound firm feta cheese
2/3 cup rosemary needles
2 cloves garlic, crushed (less if you prefer)
1 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil (approximately 1/2 cup, enough to cover the cheese)
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 small eggplant, sliced
Approximately 20 black olives


Preparation:

  1. Thin the square of feta by slicing in half horizontally, and then cut each thinner square in half, and then diagonally into triangles, estimating 2 triangles per person (you should have 8 total).
  2. Marinate the cheese overnight in the refrigerator with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. When the cheese is finished marinating, arrange the triangles in an ovenproof dish, layered with the tomato, zucchini, and eggplant. Bake for 12 minutes at 250 degrees. Serve warm, with olives.

Servings: About 4