Bring your cheese to the next level by marinating it in olive oil, herbs and spices. This recipe can be made with any fresh cheese such as mozzarella, fresh goat cheese, feta or even good old cream cheese. The addition of herbs and extra virgin olive oil will elevate a boring block of cheese to a sublime treat!
The recipe is simple. Gently warm extra virgin olive oil with aromatics and spices to coax out the flavors. We recommend:
- Smashed garlic cloves or thinly sliced onions
- Citrus rinds or lemon slices
- Herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano or tarragon (dried or fresh)
- Spices such as peppercorns, cloves, chili flakes, cumin, fennel seeds
- Sun dried tomatoes
Let the olive oil mixture cool before adding it to the cheese. Pour the warmed mixture over cubed cheese in a wide mouth container. Make sure that the cheese is completely covered. Leave it on your counter for 3-4 hours to let the flavors meld. If you don't consume it immediately, store it in your refrigerator and bring to room temperature before enjoying.
For those of you who like a little more guidance, here is a classic recipe for marinated feta cheese:
- 8 ounce block of feta cheese, cubed
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh oregano
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2 springs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- chili pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Add all of the herbs and aromatics to the olive oil in a small pan and heat up at a low temperature. Regulate the temperature so that the oil never bubbles. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the oil cool to room temperature.
Cube the cheese and add to a glass container. Pour the herb oil mixture on top of the cheese and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Serve with crusty bread or over a salad. The leftover oil is great for salad dressing or to toss with roasted vegetables or pasta.
Like many homemade preserved foods, there is a risk of botulism (Clostridium botulinum). C. bot can live in oxygen-free environments. The fresh herbs, fruit or vegetables that you use to flavor the oil can be contaminated with C. bot spores. Fresh produce also contains water, which allows the bacteria to live and grow. To prevent bacteria from growing, be sure to store your marinated cheese in the refrigerator and consume it quickly. Note, most olive oils will solidify slightly in the refrigerator. Just bring it back to room temperature on your counter.