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Salt and Stone: Baked Feta With Thyme and Hot Honey

May 16, 2023May 16, 2023

Baked Feta With Thyme and Hot Honey is an easily localized, seasonal alternative to a charcuterie board.

Sometimes the simplest of ingredients, when combined just right, make for the most delicious and special recipes. This baked feta dish, which has just a few ingredients and requires minimal effort to make, has become one of my all-time favorite recipes from this summer.

I had the pleasure of catering a small dinner party early in the summer. As I was putting the menu together, I was a bit stumped on what to do for an appetizer. I wanted something special and a little different than the standard charcuterie board. The party was outdoors in a literal secret garden. The magic of the setting was something I thought you only saw in movies or magazines.

Everywhere I looked were blossoming blush pink peony bushes, happy yellow black-eyed Susans, gorgeous white daisies, delicate lime green trailing potato vines and bright pink geraniums — all under a comforting green canopy of lush trees. Color and texture were everywhere and in the middle of the magic was a sturdy wooden table, set with mix-matched wooden chairs and the most beautiful table setting I’ve ever seen. Flowers plucked from the garden filled vases and delicate lit candles elegantly dripped wax down the candlesticks flickering light on the sweating water glasses and lovely antique white plates.

The goal was to make a meal as inspiring as the setting. With a commitment to sourcing as many local ingredients as possible, I had a burst of inspiration when my dear friend just happened to bring me a bag of perfectly ripe apricots from her family’s orchard just two days before the dinner party.

The perfectly sweet and juicy apricots became the inspiration for this simple appetizer. Instead of using the fruit for a dessert (as I typically would want to do), I decided to pair them with a savory bite. Salty briny feta cheese complements the sweetness of the apricot perfectly. A little earthy thyme and bite of black pepper rounded out the flavor, and the drizzle of hot honey brought the entire dish together to make something very special.

For the dinner party, I served the baked feta alongside cut-up apricots, crackers, Rainier cherries and a few cut-up veggies. I couldn’t have been more delighted to see the plate come back scraped clean.

As I’ve made this recipe a few more times this summer, I’ve found peaches and nectarines to be lovely alternatives to apricots as are thick slices of salted heirloom tomatoes. The hot honey is a must, though. You can find it pretty easily in the grocery store, but I found a special bottle at Simply Crafted Marketplace. A little goes a long way, so drizzle a bit over the feta, knowing you can always add more. I predict this lovely little recipe will be just as good during apple season, when a crunchy sweet-tart apple will pair beautifully.

Baked Feta with Thyme and Hot Honey

• 1 8-ounce block of feta cheese

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 2 sprigs fresh thyme

• 1-2 tablespoons hot honey

• Kosher salt and black pepper

• Stone fruit (peaches, apricots, nectarines or cherries)

• Cucumbers

• Toasted baguette

• Crackers

Preheat oven to broil (550 degrees).

In a cast iron pan or small oven-safe dish, place the block of feta in the center of the pan. Drizzle the cheese with olive oil and a sprinkle of Kosher salt and black pepper. Place the two sprigs of fresh thyme on top the feta cheese.

Bake under the broiler for five to six minutes, watching the oven to make sure the cheese does not burn. Wait for the edges of the feta to soften and the top turn golden brown. Once that happens, carefully remove the feta from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two before generously drizzling the baked feta with hot honey. Serve alongside slices of stone fruit such as apricots or nectarines, cool crunchy cucumbers and toasted baguette.

To perfectly toast a baguette, cut the bread into half-inch slices, slightly on a diagonal. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the slices of bread evenly across the tray. Generously butter the bread (just on one side) and place under the broiler for about two minutes. As the bread begins to toast and turn golden brown along the edges, this is your cue to flip the bread and toast the other side. You don’t need to butter the other side of the bread as the butter will have absorbed into the bread. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, flip the bread and return to the oven for an additional two minutes. Once the second side is golden brown (watch carefully, it happens fast), turn the heat off to the oven and remove the tray. Transfer the bread to a plate and enjoy with the baked feta.

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