Bruschetta with Whipped Feta and Roasted Florina Peppers
Bruschetta with whipped feta and roasted Florina peppers is a delicious and easy meze to make any time of the year. You can grill bell peppers instead of the long, thick-fleshed Florina peppers, which may be hard to find outside of Greece. As for the feta, there are a few things to know about the Greek national cheese: Greek feta is the only officially recognized feta in the EU, and thus the only one allowed to be exported legally. Greek feta is made only with sheeps’ or sheeps’ and goats’ milk and NEVER with cow’s milk. It is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese. You can find a good selection of real Greek feta in most American supermarkets.
- 2 large red bell peppers, or 4 fresh Florina peppers, or 3 roasted Florina peppers in brine, rinsed
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus a little more for drizzling over bread
- 3 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves coarsely chopped
- ½ pound Greek feta
- Hot sauce to taste
- ½-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 4 - 6 basil leaves, for garnish
- 1 baguette cut on the diagonal into 12 1/3-inch thick slices
For fresh peppers: Light the grill to medium. Place the red peppers on the grill, turning, for about 10 minutes total, until charred on all sides. Remove, place in a shallow bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. You can also do this under the broiler. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and seed in the bowl. Strain the juices and set aside. Cut the peppers lengthwise into strips about 1/8-inch thick. Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, a little salt, and one tablespoon of oregano.
If using brined Florina peppers, remove 3 peppers from the jar, rinse well under cold water, drain and pat dry. Proceed with the recipe, following the next step, below.
Combine the feta, ¼ cup olive oil, hot sauce, pepper juices (if using freshly roasted peppers), black pepper and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse on and off until smooth and spreadable. Set aside.
Brush the bread slices on both sides with the remaining olive oil. Grill for about 2 minutes per side. Remove.
Spread each piece of grilled bread with about one heaping tablespoon of the whipped spicy feta. Top with a few strips of roasted red pepper and sprinkle with additional oregano. Garnish with whole basil leaves. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and serve.