I’d struggle to think of anyone I know that doesn’t like marinated cheese. This marinated feta is probably my favorite recipe from my book using golpar / cow parsnip seed.
Typically the seeds are ground and mixed with cumin or another spice and used to season beans and a few other traditional dishes like whole fava beans in their pods, but on a whim one day while testing out recipes for my book, I decided to use the same golpar spice mixture I used to season beans to season some hunks of good feta-the kind that comes cut from a giant block, preferably with some of it’s whey still with it to keep it moist.
People gobbled up the cheese as an appetizer, and then I made another batch on the fly when we ran out. It’s so easy to make a recipe is hardly necessary. Here’s how to make it:
Get the best feta you can find—I like Israeli or Bulgarian, but any kind of feta sold in a block or cut for you to order can do in a pinch, and if it is packed with whey, even better.
Cut the cheese into bite-sized pieces, then season with freshly toasted, coarsely ground cumin seeds, a tiny bit of grated garlic, a few good glugs of olive oil, chopped cilantro, parsley or other herbs to taste, crumbled dried hot pepper, grated finely diced lemon zest, and equal parts ground cumin and cow parsnip seeds (golpar), to taste. If you can find green coriander seeds as I have pictured here, they add a fantastic flavor.
Gently spoon the marinade over the cheese, which will gradually absorb some of the spices as it sits. Cover the cheese and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight, tossing before serving to coat the cheese with the juices.
Serve with toothpicks, either by itself or as part of a large appetizer platter with hummus, olives, grape leaves, and soon. For a more refined version of this dish, you can cut a 4-ounce (115 g) block of feta into ½-inch (1.25 cm) slices, keeping it whole, then cut each slice into thirds, and sprinkle the seasonings and marinade on top, as pictured.
Marinated Feta Cheese with Golpar
- 8 oz High quality feta cheese, preferably Bulgarian or Israeli
- Finely ground cow parsnip seed, to taste
- Finely ground toasted cumin, to taste
- 1 small clove garlic
- Fresh lemon zest, a few scrapes to taste
- Fresh green coriander seeds (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Mix the ground cumin and golpar and reserve.
- Cut the feta into cubes people can eat in a bite with a toothpick. Put the cubes of cheese in a bowl and season with a pinch of golpar and cumin mix, then add a few scrapes of lemon zest.
- Grate the garlic over the cheese using a microplane grater.
- Add some of the fresh herbs and mix to combine, double check the seasoning and adjust until it tastes good to you, then allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
To serve as pictured
- For the most dramatic presentation, cut the block of cheese into small cubes, leaving them in the shape of a square in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the cheese with the golpar and cumin. Grate half of the garlic clove into the oil, then add the hot pepper, black pepper and a few gratings of lemon zest, mix, and drizzle over the top of the cheese and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Just before serving, use a spatula to transfer the cheese to a serving plate, drizzling the oil from the marinating dish over the top. Garnish with the green coriander and fresh herbs and serve with crackers and toothpicks. It's great served alongside hummus, olives and flatbread for a mezze platter.