I made a few very small changes to Ina's platter besides reducing the size by about half. She calls for store-bought hummus and I had homemade, she calls for olives with pits and I bought pitted olives from the deli olive bar, and she toasts her pita into chips and I'm a warm, soft, grilled pita fan so I just toasted mine over my gas burners to warm, soften and mark it just a bit. In the feta, she calls for crushed red pepper flakes and I have become fond of Aleppo pepper for it's slightly tangy flavor and more moderate heat. Otherwise I left things the same and it made for a quick and tasty light dinner.
Greek Mezze Platter
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten via FoodNetwork.com
Marinated Herbed Feta (recipe below)
6 roasted red peppers, store-bought
8-10 stuffed grape leaves, store-bought
1 cup hummus, store-bought (I used homemade)
1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
good olive oil
toasted pita chips for serving (I used grilled pita bread)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Artfully arrange the marinated feta, red peppers, stuffed grape leaves and a small bowl filled with the hummus on a platter. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the hummus and add a drizzle of olive oil. Place the pita chips on the platter and arrange the sprigs of thyme over the red peppers, for decoration.
Ina says, "Most marinated feta consists of cubes of feta swimming in a large jar of olive oil, which I think makes the feta oily. Instead, I slice it and sprinkle it with thyme, fennel, crushed red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. The flavor is much cleaner and brighter. Serve this with toasted pita triangles or on a Greek mezze platter with hummus, olives and stuffed grape leaves."
Marinated Herbed Feta
from Ina Garten, via Food Network.com
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used Aleppo pepper)
1 1/2 pounds Greek feta, drained and sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup green olives with pits, such as Cerignola (I used pitted green olives)
1/2 cup good olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the dried thyme, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Lay the feta slices overlapping on a 9 × 9-inch square serving plate.
Sprinkle the feta with the entire herb mixture. Nestle the fresh thyme sprigs and olives among the feta slices. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve at room temperature.
Got a hankering for marinated feta? Both Diana Henry and Ottolenghi have terrific recipes as well.
Notes/Results: This platter is practically effortless and is perfect for a holiday appetizer or a light meal or starter. Both of my nearby grocery stores have fairly extensive olive bars that carry stuffed grape leaves, roasted red peppers, and olives of all sorts, and there are so many great brands and kinds of store-bought humus--although is is hardly any effort to make your own. I never think to toast pine nuts to serve on top of my hummus and it adds so much great nutty flavor and texture and "curb appeal" to a dish, I'll try to remember to do it. Between that and leaving time to marinate feta (I used a nice sheep's milk feta) a few hours or the the night before, it makes the store-bought ingredients feel special. I reduced the amounts of ingredients to feed 3 to 4 instead of 8 and it made a great dinner for a couple of evenings noshing.
Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's A Helping Hand theme--where we make Ina Garten dishes that get a hand from store-bought ingredients or other helpful things that lessen the fuss and holiday cooking time.
I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.