I visited Greece this Spring for the first time, and like many far-flung places I’ve been to, the memories of the food are some of the most vivid, sticking with me months – sometimes years – after I get home.
So it’s only fitting that I had my fellow travel buddies over for a soiree back in the city, and we recreated our favorite dishes from Crete, Santorini, and Athens, where we found a nice mix of local tavernas and seasonal eats.
I’ll admit I was giddy as a school girl getting ready for dinner: sprucing up the deck, hanging twinkle lights, and decorating the table with white cheesecloth napkins (maybe a nod to the process of making Tzatziki?), a potted oregano plant, and lanterns.
But back to our travels. Some of the best dishes from our trip were just awesome ingredients simply prepared, so we did our best to recreate them: a simple Greek salad, grilled squid with fresh lemon, zucchini fritters, and a team favorite, feta. While always great plain, I dialed it up a notch and recreated an appetizer we had at Floga, a restaurant in Oia, after a 3-hour hike from Fira:
We were sweaty and nasty and ravenous after the hike, so of course everything we ate at that lunch seemed incredible. But this one feta dish stood out: it was rolled in slivered almonds and sesame seeds, lightly pan-fried to a golden brown, and served with a pomegranate reduction. Talk dirty!
So that’s what I set out to make at home (above). Here’s my attempt to recreate the recipe. I’ll caveat that it was a mess to make, and certainly not for the impatient. But after one bite into the toasted nuttiness and warm cheese, I knew it was time well spent.
Golden Fried Feta
– 1 c. pomegranate juice (ie Pom)
– olive oil
– 1 square block of feta (8 oz)
– 1 egg
– 1 T. milk
– 1/3 c. flour
– 1/2 c. slivered almonds
– 1 t. sesame seeds
– Pita wedges, for serving
Heat the pomegranate in a small saucepan over high heat until it simmers; reduce to half and set aside to cool. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a heavy pan on medium, enough to coat the bottom by about 1/3″. Beat egg and milk in a large, shallow bowl. Set aside. Combine flour and pepper on a separate plate, set aside. Pour almonds on a third plate, set aside.
Quarter your feta block into 4 equal wedges and prep each as follows: dredge triangle in egg mixture, then flour, then egg mixture. This will give you a gooey base. Sprinkle a few pinches of sesame onto the wedge, then gently press the almonds onto each side, coating as much “cheese space’ as possible. Repeat on remaining wedges.
Fry two wedges at a time, alternating sides until they are golden brown. Drizzle with pomegranate reduction and serve with greens and pita.