One of my favorite cocktails combines champagne with pink peppercorn and a few delicious herbal ingredients. The bright, fresh qualities are ideal for counteracting the sluggish days of August. With these flavors in mind, I created a marinated feta that is perfect for snacking, topping salads, or accompanying a charcuterie board as a light summer meal.
If you find that your favorite dishes aren’t as appealing in the summer, you are definitely not alone. Your taste buds might just need to be refreshed. Since pink peppercorns are actually berries with a citrusy, peppery flavor, they are a great replacement for traditional black peppercorns this time of year. They are also softer than an actual peppercorn. Before you make this recipe, taste a few and you will see why fennel seed makes such a great partner. Imagine the taste of fresh oregano mingling with the two, and you might not be able to wait the full week before opening the jar to taste this recipe in action.
4 ounces cubed feta
2, 6-inch sprigs of oregano
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon dried chopped garlic
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil to cover
For this recipe I prefer to use the 290ml (¾ cup) Weck canning jar, even though we won’t be using a canning process. The glass is nice and thick, and you can get a great seal when you use the rubber rings and clips. If you don’t have this type of jar on hand, you can use any glass jar that can be sealed tightly. Scale the recipe up or down based on the size of the jar.
Begin by laying one of the oregano sprigs in the bottom of the jar, circling it around the bottom. Layer in 2 ounces of the cubed feta, and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the pink peppercorns, ½ teaspoon of the fennel seeds, all of the dried chopped garlic, and the red pepper flakes on top. Some of the spices will make their way below the cheese, and some will remain on top. This is exactly what you want, since the flavors should surround all of the cheese cubes.
Layer in another 2 ounces of feta, sprinkle with the remaining pink peppercorns and fennel seeds, and add the final stem of oregano. Fill the jar with enough olive oil to cover. When selecting an olive oil for this recipe, choose on that you would use for salad dressings, as a good quality version will add to the overall flavor.
Seal the jar, allow it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, and then refrigerate for a week. But before you do, take a look at how beautiful it all looks. With the reddish pink berries and sprigs of bright green oregano, this recipe makes a great appetizer for Christmas parties and winter celebrations – reminiscent of holly and winterberry.
Before we get caught up in holiday planning, tuck away a little reminder to revisit this recipe when December arrives. For now let the bright, fresh flavors revive us. Before serving, allow the marinated feta to come to room temperature as the olive oil tends to congeal in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend replacing the olive oil with another type as it lends such a great flavor, and it only takes about an hour to get to serving temperature.