Lemon-Thyme Feta Spread

I whipped (heh) up this feta spread recipe a while back to pair up with some hummus and homebrewed wheat thins.

The preserved lemon is easy to make. The recipe is inspired by one I saw a while back in Greg Malouf’s excellent Middle Eastern cookbook Artichoke to Zaatar, and I consider it to be one of my kitchen’s essential ingredients. The flavor is bright and briny- it’s lemon without the sourness, and it goes into many Eastern Mediterranean and North African dishes.

fetaspread

Lemon-Thyme Feta Spread

Lemon-Thyme Feta Spread

  • 8oz feta cheese
  • 2oz cream Cheese
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp thyme (fresh- about 7-8 sprigs), minced
  • 1tbsp preserved lemon (about 1/2 lemon), minced (recipe below)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Add oil, thyme and lemon to food processor and pulse once or twice. Add cream cheese; pulse to combine. Crumb feta and add an ounce or so at a time, pulsing to combine and scraping down walls of food processor between additions. Garnish with fresh thyme. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Preserved Lemon

  • 6 large lemons (preferably unwaxed)
  • 1tbsp coriander seed
  • 1stick cinnamon
  • 1cup water
  • 2cups salt

First, secure a wide-mouth quart jar. I tend to use old Adam’s peanut butter jars for this kind of storage, but any widemouth of about a quart capacity will work. Wash the jar thoroughly, and put a couple tablespoons of salt in the bottom.

If you are lucky enough to have unwaxed lemons (either from a farmer’s market or your own tree (!), you get to skip a step. Otherwise, scrub the lemons well with a bristle brush.

Cut the lemons lengthwise into quarters, but do not cut all the way through the stem end. Leave a small stub at the stem end to hold the quarters together. Gently squeeze the lemon over a non-reactive saucepan to extract some of the juice.

Spread the lemon apart, sprinkle heavily with salt, and put it in the jar. I usually put a couple lemons in the jar, top off with salt, and continue layering lemons and salt until the jar is full.

Bring the reserved lemon juice to a simmer with the water and spices. Simmer for 5 minutes, then pour the liquid and spices into the jar. Add salt if needed to cover the lemons. Cap the jar and set it in a dark cupboard for a month or so before using.

The salt pack and thick brine will soften the lemon rinds; the flesh will nearly disintegrate. The rind will darken over time, but this doesn’t affect the flavor. To use the lemons, strip the flesh from the rind and discard. Rinse the rind a couple of times with warm water to remove the salt.

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