Feta Cheese and Spring Vegetable Salad. We are well into the middle of Spring, and the forecast is for more balmy summer temperatures! One of the great joys of living in the Channel Islands for me is the sudden abundance of delicious vegetables growing on the island. Earlier this year my local newspaper the Jersey Evening Post invited me to create some seasonal recipes, and I included a suitably seasonal Spring salad made with one of my favourite cheeses.
Traditional feta is a soft, salty, tangy cheese from Greece that is made from sheep’s and goat’s milk. In 2002 the European Union added feta to its list of protected products or PDO. This limited both where the name feta could be applied and the ingredients that could be used in its manufacture. You can find ‘feta style’ cheese, made in other parts of the world. It is more commonly made from cow’s milk. Top of the range feta is barrel-aged. Barrel-aged feta has a soft, creamy texture and a peppery finish. There are only a small number of classic feta producers left in Greece because of the time and investment required.
I love the flavours of tender stem broccoli and courgettes. Especially when they are quickly cooked with a little garlic, chilli, salt, and good olive oil. But you don’t just have to serve them hot as a vegetable. This nutritional recipe is packed with flavour, and vegetarian friendly. What could be nicer for that first lunch outdoors? This dish is also a great side dish to go with a roast leg of Lamb and some Jersey Royals for a fabulous Sunday lunch.
Feta Cheese and Spring Vegetable Salad
- 1 Heavy-bottomed frying pan
For the Salad
- First make your dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together or blitzing in a food processor. You can make this in advance and store in your fridge.
- Trim the asparagus cutting off the bottom three to four centimetres if thick and woody. Trim the tender stem broccoli and measure out the peas. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and quickly blanch the vegetables by adding first the broccoli and asparagus and then the peas.
- As soon as the water returns to the boil carefully strain and plunge the broccoli, asparagus, and peas into very cold water. If you can add some ice even better. This will arrest the cooking and keep the vegetables fresh and crunchy. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and add the courgette and garlic. Do not add the garlic first as there is a risk it could burn.
- Stir constantly until the courgettes start to colour and soften. Remove from the heat and season generously. Add the other vegetables and toss together with the dressing.
- Tip into a nice serving bowl and crumble over the feta. Garnish with finely sliced red chilli, freshly torn mint leaves and a drizzle of dressing.