My local deli sells lovely, organic products from Greece, including kritharaki (a type of orzo) and a wild oregano that is woody, floral and intensely evocative of holidays in that sunshine and piercing, blue sea. It was there that I once had a barrel-aged feta so soft and creamy that I was barely able to contain myself. I had no idea feta could be such a silky, delicate-tasting collection of soft curds. Here, I bake it to try to emulate that texture, and it works beautifully in this sun-soaked salad.
A blissful summer salad full of exotic herb flavours and sharp, sweet juices.
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Salt and black pepper
150g podded broad beans
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
1 garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large, very ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 big handful each parsley, rocket, dill and mint, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the orzo for a minute less than the packet instructions, adding the broad beans three minutes before the end. Drain, rinse under cold water and dress with a tablespoon of oil and the vinegar.
Put the feta on a sheet of foil on a baking tray. Scatter over half the oregano and the garlic, drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon zest and a quarter of its juice. Scrunch up the foil to seal the feta in a parcel, then bake for 10 minutes, until warmed through and softened.
Transfer the cooked orzo to a large bowl. Double pod the broad beans, if you want, or leave them as they are, and add to the bowl. Add the tomatoes, herbs and remaining olive oil, toss lightly to combine, then adjust the seasoning, if need be.
Once the feta is lovely and soft, unwrap it from the foil and use a spatula to pick the whole thing up and place it majestically astride the salad. Drizzle over its cooking juices, then serve immediately with crusty bread, wedges of lemon and perhaps some grilled lamb souvlakis.
Try serving the baked feta over roast courgettes. Any leftover herbs should be finely chopped and stirred into butter to freeze for summery jacket potatoes.