Those ingredients that with one pinch, dash, or drizzle take a recipe from good to incredible.
I'd go so far as to say that the mark of an accomplished cook isn't merely in learning technique but also in learning when to add (and how much to add) of said magical ingredients.
Take, for example, honey. Stirred with jalapenos, it elevates cranberry and brie tartlets, simmered with balsamic, it adds a sweet tang to these persimmons, and shaken with sage and gin, it makes a very autumnal take on the Bee's Knees cocktail.
So when my friends at California Grown asked me to create a recipe around local honey, I was oh-so game. I adore California because the array of produce here is as diverse and vibrant as the people.
And that's most definitely the case for honey. There is a bold, almost molasses quality to avocado blossom honey; there is a decidedly floral note to orange blossom honey and a subtle quality to eucalyptus honey.
This recipe is a take on a classic Caprese salad that we have nicknamed a "Greek" Caprese. Why is that? It's because this recipe has flavors that feel a bit Greek (feta, tomatoes, oregano), but it is not something you'll see when you travel there.
This recipe has lots of summery, bright flavors that feel a lot like California sunshine on a plate.
You don't need much to make this recipe as it's easy, simple, and pretty quick. The only must-follow rule is to bring the feta to room temperature before cooking it. This will ensure that the cheese gets uniformly soft and flavored.
The variations here are many. You could switch the type of honey you use and the herbs (say, mint or basil or thyme). And, if you don't feel like turning on your broiler, this can also be made on the grill. Place the feta and seasonings in a piece of aluminum foil, close it tight, and grill it for just a few minutes until the feta takes on an almost ricotta-like texture.
And, if you want to make it even easier, you could serve the broiled or grilled feta with bread and call it a day!
at room temperature
plus more for garnish
Prepare the feta: Bring an oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. While it heats, prepare the feta by placing it in a small ovenproof dish. Scatter the sliced garlic and a few oregano sprigs over the top and drizzle with all the measured olive oil.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the middle of the feta is warm and the block of cheese is softened.
To test that the feta is warm, insert a metal skewer into the center of the cheese and hold it there for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove the skewer and place it on your chin. If it is cold, you need to bake the cheese longer. But, if it is warmer than your chin, you can proceed.
Broil the feta: Remove the feta from the oven and turn the broiler on high. Add a few cranks of black pepper and a pinch of chile flakes (if using), then drizzle with the measured honey.
Place the feta back in the oven under the broiler and broil until the edges are browned about 5 to 10 minutes.
Serve the feta: When it is ready, remove it from the oven and set it aside. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on a serving platter and top with some pistachios, lemon zest, oregano leaves, flaky sea salt, and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Arrange the feta next to the tomatoes and top with lemon zest and additional oregano. Spoon some of the juices from the baking dish over the feta and serve immediately.
Connect With Salt & Wind Travel
More California On Salt & Wind Travel
Sponsored Post: This story is brought to you by California Grown but all content, ideas, and words are our own. Thanks for supporting these sponsors who allow us to keep Salt & Wind Travel up and running.