For most people, a block of feta cheese this size would last awhile. In a Greek home, this “piece” wouldn’t see the end of the week.
Here’s a little tidbit for those of you who buy “crumbled feta” at the supermarket: see the piece of feta missing from the front corner of this brick?
That and other bits like that get saved, and sold to you, the feta novice who thinks they are buying the convenience of “crumbled feta”. Buy feta from a store that sells feta in bricks, slabs or large tins. A Greek market or deli is a good start.
Feta cheese is for more than just Greek salad. We like it with toast, to make a kind of Greek Bruschetta, in Spanakopita, Saganaki, with spaghetti and brown butter or alongside some fruit like watermelon.
Today I’m showing you feta in a whole new way…in a potato gratin. Everything about this dish is Greek…the use of potatoes, rosemary, sun-dried cured olives (Throumpes) and everyone’s favourite Greek cheese, feta.
The inspiration for this dish comes from a book called The Complete Book of Greek Cooking and it’s Potatoes With Feta and Olives bit me like a Tse-Tse fly. I’ve been itching to try this dish for a few weeks now.
Their dish looked great but I was convinced their approach would have ended up with a dry baked potato dish with some burnt feta on top. However, they had a good idea.
My approach is simple, make a scalloped potato dish that would be baked with a creamy Bechamel Sauce and feta as the base cheese.
This is going to be one of my favourite Greek side dishes. The Bechamel mellows the feta, potatoes and rosemary pair with each other well and the bits of black olives round out the dish like a finishing touch of salt.
4 large potatoes
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/4 cup flour
2 cups of milk
1 sprig of rosemary
2 cups of crumbled feta
1/2 cup sun-dried black olives (Throumpes)
(pitted and roughly chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add a good amount of salt and boil for 15 minutes. Bring the temperature of the potatoes down by placing in an ice bath until they are safe to handle.
- Peel the skins and discard. Slice the potatoes into thin slices and reserve.
- In a medium saucepan, add your butter over medium-high heat and then add your onions, garlic, bay leaf, half of your rosemary sprig and saute for 5 minutes until your onions have softened.
- Add your flour and stir to cook the flour for a couple of minutes. Add the milk over medium heat and stir until the Bechamel has thickened. Remove your bay leaf, rosemary, garlic and add half (1 cup) of your crumbled feta. Stir until incorporated, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm and reserve.
- Grease an approx. 8″ X 14″ baking dish and line the bottom with a coat of Bechamel.
- Lay your potato slices in a row, overlapping each other. Make rows of overlapping potatoes until the dish has been covered by your potatoes.
- Spread the rest of the Bechamel over the potatoes, scatter the remaining crumbled feta on top, followed by the chopped olives and remaining rosemary.
- Crack some fresh black pepper over the top and bake in the middle rack of your oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
. All rights reserved.