’Tis the season for tasty appetizers!
When I go to parties, I prefer one-bite nibbles, and these little feta bites are just right.
Truth be told, I’m the gal who only enjoys feta crumbled in a salad. But I finally tried coating the cheese in bread crumbs and pan-searing it to crispy, golden brown. Game-changer, is all I can say. Now I’m looking for all sorts of dishes to serve with this warm, crunchy, salty, slightly gooey cheese.
I topped each bite with a yummy ‘tapenade’ of honey, toasted nuts, dates, adobo and a bit of lemon (for balance). I was inspired to make it after enjoying the delicious golden concoction of honey, dates, figs and nuts made by my friends at Sarasota Honey Company.
To start, I dredged the feta pieces in cornstarch, egg and Panko. Note: I used my triple snack holder, which came in handy, but I certainly wouldn’t use it for big jobs 🙂
The process comes together very quickly, so there’s not a lot of prep time. If you have tapenade left over, toss it in yogurt or serve it atop whipped feta or goat cheese and scoop it onto crostini. Or, keep in the fridge for when you need something for chicken or salmon, roasted sweet potato, or baked brie. All good stuff.
And don’t be constrained by the nuts and fruit in this recipe – experiment with dried cherries, currants, or other nuts. Try replacing adobo with another of your favorite sauces, or use cinnamon and orange peel for some extra holiday flavor. And if you simply can’t get enough walnuts, try this yummy tapenade, too.
As Julia used to say “Happy Cooking!“
Crispy Feta with Walnut/Honey Tapenade
A sweet and savory bite of pan-seared feta coated in Panko, topped with a tapenade of walnuts, dates, honey and adobo. Great for the holidays or any time of year!
- 1 c. Nuts, toasted (I used walnuts and pecans)
- 3/4 c. Dates, finely chopped
- 3/4 c. Honey
- 1 1/2 tsp. Adobo sauce (add more, to taste, if you like it spicier)
- 1/2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice (add more, to taste, for balance)
- 8 oz. Feta cheese block, cut into 1/4" slices (my brand measured ~ 3"X3")
- 3-4 Tb. Cornstarch
- 1 Egg, well-beaten
- 1 c. Panko bread flakes
- 4-6 Tb. Vegetable oil
- Add nuts to a non-stick skillet over medium/low heat and toast until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer nuts to a cutting board to cool, then chop finely and add to a mixing bowl.
- Add chopped dates to the same bowl, along with honey, adobo and lemon juice. Mix well, then set aside.
- Slice feta into approximately 1/4" slices, which should yield about 12 slices. Cut each in half, which should yield about 24 squares.
- Prepare dredging area - 1 bowl for cornstarch, 1 for a beaten egg, 1 for Panko. Coat each feta piece in cornstarch, then egg, then Panko (shaking off excess at each step). Set aside on a plate until ready to sear.
- In the same non-stick skillet you used for the nuts, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to the pan, over medium/high heat. Once oil is hot, add feta pieces and reduce heat to medium. You may have to do more than one batch unless your pan is quite large. Add a little more oil at the start of each batch (or during the searing process, if the bread flakes soak up too much oil and there's not enough for browning).
- When the first sides are well-browned, flip - this takes about 2 minutes. Wait another minute, then check each piece and remove/place on a paper towel when each is to your desired level of golden brown. In total, less than 5 minutes in the pan should do it.
- Top each feta bite with a bit of tapenade and serve immediately. Refrigerate any remaining tapenade.