Sunday, 10 April 2011

Baked Feta and Frozen Peas = Posh Cheesy Peas!

Feta is one of those food items which ten years ago was quite aspirational and sold as a luxury ponciefied item. It's now so commonly used that it's available in a value version in most supermarkets. I often buy the small supermarket slabs of cheap feta without thinking about how I will use them. After a few days in the fridge I'll normally end up making this Nigel Slater recipe I originally found by in an old paper.

I like Nigel Slater's recipes. I will admit he comes across a bit odd on the TV. His passion for food makes him seem a bit pushy rather than encouraging at times but if you can get past that he is probably the best food broadcaster and writer in the country. He makes food on his programs and in his recipe books which can be made by most people in their kitchens relativly easily while still teaching them about new flavours and ingredients. Too many cooking programs and cookbooks are made by catering industry insiders making food based on the restaurant model.

The first thing I do is make a packet for the feta out of baking foil. I then put a load of olive oil, dried mint, dried oregano and dried basil in the packet with the feta. I make sure I put some underneath and on top. You can also use fresh mint if you have it as well as the dried. I wouldn't use fresh oregano or basil though as they wilt and wont give off much flavour.

The packet is scrunched together to make a seal and put in the oven for about 25 mins.

I normally use frozen peas whenever I cook peas. I find fresh peas are an inferior product which have lost their flavour by the time they have made the journey from field to shop. Frozen peas are frozen seconds after they are picked. The harvesting machines freeze them as they pick them from the fields. They have infinitely more flavour than fresh peas because of this.

I put the peas in a saucepan with water and warm them for the shortest time possible. I get them to the temperature I want them and then drain. Any extra cooking just removes their flavour. You should never put them on to boil as they will taste of nothing. Same rules apply to frozen sweetcorn.

Once the feta's been baked I take the foil packet out of the oven, try my best to empty the contents into a bowl without making a mess, add the peas and stir a bit. This posh cheesy pea concoction can now be served as a side or a warm alternative to houmous or tzatziki.

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