We woke up to the sound of bees and the distant toll of a single church bell. The women in the small white houses that surrounded ours prepared for their day by sweeping their jewel bright bougainvillea lined courtyards quietly talking to their neighbours. Theirs were animated conversations that I wanted to be part of but failed to identify a single word. Perhaps they were talking about the effects of an influx of tourists to their tiny Greek island, perhaps they were berating their men for yet another lost afternoon playing backgammon as they threw back ouzo and gossiped about their wives. Perhaps they were talking about what to eat that day. It was going to be one of those long still days with no relief from the summer sun until the evening breeze started to drift in over the sea. A short stroll to the village store revealed a wooden bowl of just-picked tomatoes still warm from the sun, blocks of salty feta wrapped in waxy paper and tied with string, baskets of dried legumes, a pile of lemons that had definitely seen better days, small bottles of peppery olive oil, jars of local honey and little bags of dried foraged herbs. The perfect makings for a quick yet flavoursome supper after a long and sultry day spent reading books in a shady cove where we had existed on nothing but a paper bag filled with overripe peaches and salty pistachio nuts.
3 large mixed colour tomatoes, cut lengthways into eighths
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp capers, rinsed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
60ml Raphael’s Cretan extra-virgin olive oil
10g flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
1 tsp pul biber, to serve
Micro herbs, to serve (optional)
For the feta:
200g block of good quality feta cheese
Raphael’s Cretan extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp Raphael’s organic Greek thyme
Pinch lavender florets
Freshly ground mixed peppercorns
A drizzle of Raphael’s Organic Greek thyme honey
Sumac, to serve (optional)
How I make it
Heat an oven to 180C.
Cut a piece of baking paper about 3cm wider than the feta. Place the feta on top and then place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter over the thyme, lavender and a couple of grinds of pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until soft and golden brown on top.
To make the salad, simply mix all the ingredients together, season to your taste, tumble onto a pretty plate and scatter over the pul biber.
Remove the feta from the oven and, using the edges of the baking paper to pick it up, transfer it to your serving plate. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sumac (if using).
Serve both dishes with plenty of freshly baked Greek village bread still warm from the oven.
For more information about Raphael’s Mediterranean Deli products, please click this link.