Some foods are an acquired taste, and for me Feta took me a bit of time to cozy up to. Feta is a white, salty Greek cheese made from the milk of ewes or goats. To some people, just the sound of the word “goats” milk, is enough to turn them off.
For this dip, I was looking to combine the unique qualities of Feta cheese and combine them with several other ingredients to create a dip that would be good with veggies, or with pita chips.
Chef's Note: Okay… I confess. I came up with this dip because I was getting tired of serving all those dips made with cheddar, and pepper jack, and all those other ingredients. I wanted something different, with a hint of Eastern flavors, and to be low in calories.
I worked this one out in the test kitchen yesterday. The Feta is there, but it's blended together with the other ingredients to create a very mild dip. That's why I added the cayenne… to give it a bit of a kick.
If you like Feta, I think you will like this dip. If you don't, well… the decision is up to you.
Place a rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 225f (107c).
Rinse off the cherry tomatoes, and then place them into an ovenproof baking dish.
Chef’s Note: The dish should be big enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer, but not much bigger. I found that a glass pie dish worked just fine.
Whisk together the olive oil, white wine, salt, and pepper, until fully incorporated.
Chef’s Tip: I use a stick blender to make sure the olive oil and wine are fully blended.
Add the liquid to the baking dish containing the tomatoes, and then add the thyme sprigs, and garlic cloves.
Place in the preheated oven and allow to bake for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the tomatoes are swollen, and the skins wrinkled.
Chef's Note: Could you bake the tomatoes at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time… Yes. However, you want the tomatoes, and the other ingredients to slowly blend together. A shorter baking time translates into less flavor.
Remove from oven, and allow to completely cool.
Discard the thyme sprigs and garlic.
Add the feta to a food processor fitted with an S-blade.
Pour the liquid from the tomatoes into the bowl with the Feta, and reserve the tomatoes.
Add the cayenne pepper (if using), oregano, and basil to the bowl.
Blend at high speed until completely mixed and smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes
Add the tomatoes, lime juice, and then give the ingredients 2 or 3 pulses of 1-second each.
Chef’s Note: The tomatoes should be incorporated into the Feta; however, it should be a bit chunky.
Pour into a small saucepan, and warm it up a bit.
Chef’s Tip: I like this dip to be warm, but not hot. It also serves well at room temperature.
Pour into a serving dish, and garnish with the chopped thyme.
Serve with pita chips, or some nice fresh veggies… Carrots, broccoli, and celery come to mind. Enjoy.