Chosen Bites: Summer Tapas

Let the cheese be the star of the show with this baked feta cheese in spicy tomato sauce.

Baked Feta Cheese in Spicy Tomato Sauce  370 (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Baked Feta Cheese in Spicy Tomato Sauce 370
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Feta cheese is one of my favorite cheeses. Usually I crumble it into salads, bulgur, and on top of grilled vegetables. It's a great garnish and I always have a chunk of the fragrant white cheese in my refrigerator.
A delicious alternative method of serving feta is as the “starring” attraction. Baked feta in a spicy tomato sauce and served with garlicky crostini is amazing.
The feta becomes slightly caramelized with a gooey center that spreads wonderful on garlicky bread. The spicy sauce is the perfect foil for the rich cheese.
Serve this summer tapas with chilled wine and a crispy salad.Serves 6 as a tapas
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil6 large garlic cloves, minced1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes2 tablespoons tomato paste¼ cup chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh 1 15-ounce can tomato pureeSalt and pepper to taste1 8-ounce chunk of feta cheese1 baguette, sliced into ½ inch crostiniOlive oil for brushing crostini2 whole garlic cloves, for rubbing crostini
Suggested garnishes: extra virgin olive, chopped olives, sliced hot peppers, fresh parsley.
1. Place a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds).
2. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Sauté the mix until the tomato paste is fragrant and darkened (about 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and puree. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Ladle the sauce into an attractive oven proof casserole. Place the cheese on top of the sauce. Drizzle the cheese with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned. This can also be done on the grill for a smoky flavor.
4. Brush the crostini with olive oil and bake or grill until lightly browned and crispy.
5. Rub the crostini with garlic. Serve the crostini with the baked feta. Garnish with suggested garnishes.