The best feta recipes, from quick and easy lunches to warming one-pot dinners

Posted by for Food and Drink

Creamy, tangy and endlessly versatile, feta cheese packs a lot of power. These recipes will turn up the flavour on all your meals.

As much as we’ve found real pleasure in crafting elaborate three-course meals during lockdown, it’s sometimes just as satisfying to find ways to make one ingredient really sing. And much like the rich, savoury depth of miso or the velvety, nutty flavour of tahini, feta is one such ingredient that deserves to take centre stage.

In the UK, the crumbly, salty cheese is most commonly seen on top of salads and pasta dishes. But in Greece, where feta originates, it’s eaten with nearly everything – from stuffed vegetables and crisp golden pies to blended dips, hearty casseroles and fruit salads. It’s not a hastily sprinkled afterthought, but an integral part of traditional cuisine.

Feta is also much more versatile than you might think. Not only does its tangy flavour work brilliantly in both sweet and savoury dishes, its texture also adds an interesting element – whether you opt for a hard, crumbly cheese or a mellow, creamy version. It’s no surprise that a feta pasta recipe recently went viral on TikTok. 

Below, you’ll find five delicious recipes that will inspire you to cook with feta in new ways. Emily Kydd’s whipped feta with beetroot and caraway on toast makes for a dynamic mix of textures, and is perfect for a quick weekday lunch.

Gill Meller’s roast peppers and shallots with basil, parsley and crumbled feta cheese, meanwhile, is a brilliant contrast of flavours, blending the salty-sharp cheese with sweet, smoky caramelised vegetables.

Dreaming of sunny weather? Polina Chesnakova’s crispy golden spinach, feta and mozzarella turnovers are an easy alternative to a classic Greek spanakopita that will transport you to a seaside taverna.

Similarly, Rachel Phipps’ gigantes plaki with feta takes a traditional Greek dish of butter beans in a cinnamon-infused tomato sauce and turns it into a warming one-pot dinner. And her zingy feta, veggie and lemon bake proves that melted feta can deliver much more flavour than you’d imagine.

One final tip: the flavour and texture of feta varies depending on the ingredients and production process, so all you have to do is try different types (ideally from international supermarkets) until you discover your favourite. Time to seek out all the feta you can find…

  • Feta, veggie and lemon bake

    Best feta recipes: feta, veggie and lemon bake
    Best feta recipes: Rachel Phipps' feta, veggie and lemon bake

    Rachel Phipps says: “Feta cheese is beautiful when it is baked; it melts a bit like mozzarella and crisps up a little around the edges like halloumi, while somehow retaining some of its crumbly texture. It is simply delicious roasted with Mediterranean veggies, a little Aleppo chilli and lashings of extra virgin olive oil, served in big bowls with lots of crusty bread on hand to mop up all the cooking juices.

    “This dish is particularly good for using up the rest of a pack of feta you opened to crumble over a salad before it goes sour and any leftovers can also be warmed through and used as a base for scrambled eggs or tofu.”

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 300g mixed red, yellow and orange peppers
    • 2 red onions
    • 200g cherry tomatoes
    • ½ lemon
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 200g feta
    • 1 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
    • 60g black olives
    • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
    • small handful of fresh basil (optional, for garnish)

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Deseed the peppers and cut them into rough chunks. Peel the onions and cut them into wedges and halve the cherry tomatoes. Halve the lemon half, then cut each quarter into very thin slices.

    Toss all the prepared vegetables and lemon slices together on a large baking tray with 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.

    Toss the roasting vegetables together so that they cook evenly, then crumble the feta in large chunks over the top. Sprinkle each chunk with the Aleppo chilli flakes and drizzle them with the remaining olive oil. 

    Roast again for 10–15 minutes until the cheese has started to brown.

    Roughly tear the basil leaves (if using) over the feta and vegetables and toss together just before serving.

    From One Pan Pescatarian: 100 Delicious Dinners – Veggie, Vegan, Fish by Rachel Phipps (£20, Hodder & Stoughton), out now 

  • Roast peppers and shallots with basil, parsley and feta cheese

    Best feta recipes: roast peppers with feta cheese
    Best feta recipes: Gill Meller's roast peppers and shallots with basil, parsley and feta cheese

    Gill Meller says: “Try to track down some longer red peppers and lovely banana shallots for this recipe – they fit together like a hand in a glove, collapsing together, becoming one with ease.

    “Be generous with the basil and parsley, as they add a beautiful, fresh flavour. I’ve finished off with some crumbled feta cheese, but chopped Kalamata olives would work too.”

    Ingredients

    • 2 long (marconi) red peppers, halved lengthways and deseeded
    • 4 or 5 banana shallots, halved lengthways
    • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 handful of basil, leaves picked
    • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
    • 100g feta cheese (optional)
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C/gas mark 3.

    Place the pepper halves, cut sides upwards, on a medium baking tray.

    Arrange the shallot halves inside the peppers. Depending on the size of them you might be able to fit a few halves in each pepper. It doesn’t matter if they’re all a bit higgledy piggledy – the peppers and shallots will soften as they cook.

    Trickle the shallots with half the olive oil and season everything with salt and pepper.

    Roast the vegetables for 1 hour, or until the peppers have collapsed and the shallots are lovely and soft. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the peppers to sit while you roughly chop the herbs.

    Crumble over the cheese, if using, and scatter over the basil and parsley. Trickle over the remaining olive oil and bring to the table.

    From Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower: How To Cook With Vegetables And Other Plants by Gill Meller (£27, Quadrille), out now 

  • Spinach, feta, and mozzarella turnovers

    Best feta recipes: spinach, feta, and mozzarella turnovers
    Best feta recipes: Polina Chesnakova's spinach, feta, and mozzarella turnovers

    Polina Chesnakova says: “Love spanakopita but don’t want to deal with finicky phyllo dough? Then these fun puff pastries are for you. It doesn’t hurt that you probably have many of these ingredients already on hand, too. 

    “They’re baked to golden, flaky perfection and are a welcome addition to any holiday meal or game day spread, or even as an afternoon snack.”

    Makes 18 small turnovers

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
    • flaky sea salt
    • 1 garlic clove, cut into thin slices
    • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, plus more as desired
    • 100g frozen spinach (or cooked spinach, well squeezed and finely chopped)
    • 115g low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
    • 60g crumbled feta
    • 2 spring onions, green top removed, cut into thin slices
    • 1 to 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 tbsp double cream, whole milk, or water
    • 2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed but chilled
    • black sesame seeds, for garnish
    • white sesame seeds, for garnish

    Method

    In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the white onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown.

    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Add the spinach and cook until thawed and warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.

    Once the spinach mixture has cooled, stir in the mozzarella, feta, green onions, dill, and lemon zest until fully mixed. Season with salt and red pepper flakes, as desired. You can cover and refrigerate the filling for up to 5 days before assembling the pastries.

    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the egg and double cream and set aside.

    On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 puff pastry sheet into a 23cm square. Cut into nine 7.5 by 7.5cm squares and place 2 tbsp of filling into the centre of each square.

    Lightly brush the edges of the pastries with the egg wash. Fold each square in half to form a triangle and seal the edges by pinching them together.

    Transfer the pastries to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate while you repeat the process with the remaining puff pastry sheet.

    Refrigerate the assembled pastries to firm up the dough, 15 to 20 minutes. They can keep, covered and refrigerated, for a few hours.

    When ready to bake, position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

    Remove pastries from the refrigerator and use a fork to crimp the edges, making sure they are well sealed. Brush each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and flaky sea salt.

    Cut small vents into the pastries. Assembled unbaked pastries can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months – just add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

    Bake the pastries, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and back to front halfway through, until they are puffed up, golden brown, and firm to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve while still hot.

    From Hot Cheese: Over 50 Gooey, Oozy, Melty Recipes by Polina Chesnakova (£14.99, Chronicle Books), out now 

  • Whipped feta with beetroot and caraway on toast

    Best feta recipes: feta with beetroot on toast
    Best feta recipes: Emily Kydd's whipped feta with beetroot and caraway on toast

    Emily Kydd says: “Whipping up salty feta transforms it into a light, creamy spread that makes an ideal bed for the Russian-inspired combination of earthy beetroot and fragrant caraway.”

    Makes 12 croutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 medium beetroot, peeled
    • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
    • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • zest 1 small orange and juice of ½
    • 200g feta
    • 2 tbsp Greek-style yoghurt
    • 1 heaped tsp caraway seeds
    • 12 small pieces granary bread
    • handful baby chard or sorrel leaves
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Cut the beetroot into matchsticks.

    Combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, orange zest and juice in a bowl with a good pinch of salt.

    Tip the beetroot into the bowl, stir well and set aside to pickle for at least 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

    Meanwhile, crumble the feta into the small bowl of a food processor and whizz to a crumb. Spoon in the yoghurt and whizz for 3–4 minutes until smooth. Taste and season.

    Toast the caraway seeds in a dry frying pan until aromatic. Toast the bread and, once cooled, top with the whipped feta.

    Drain the beetroot well then divide between the toast slices. Sprinkle over the caraway seeds and top with some baby chard or sorrel leaves.

    From Posh Toast: Over 70 Recipes For Glorious Things – On Toast by Emily Kydd (£12.99, Quadrille), out now 

  • Gigantes plaki with feta

    Best feta recipes: gigantes plaki with feta
    Best feta recipes: Rachel Phipps' gigantes plaki with feta

    Rachel Phipps says: “One of the first things I remember cooking all by myself for my parents while they were working outside in the garden one weekend was gigantes, a big dish of Greek butter beans in a cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce, baked to bubbly perfection.

    “Here, I’ve transformed that baked pan of beans into a simple stovetop supper, piled into warm bowls with crumbled feta and handfuls of basil, and perhaps with some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.”

    Serves 2–3

    Ingredients

    • splash of light oil
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 2 large garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp tomato purée
    • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
    • 300g tinned or jarred butter beans (about 1½ tins, drained weight)
    • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • ½ tsp dried thyme
    • 60ml (4 tbsp) vegetable stock or water
    • 60g feta
    • small handful of fresh basil, flat leaf parsley or fresh oregano
    • freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Peel and finely chop the onion, add to the pan with the sea salt and gently fry for 5 minutes or so until soft and just starting to brown.

    Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves and add them to the pan, frying for a further minute until they’re soft and aromatic, but not yet starting to colour.

    Stir in the cinnamon and tomato purée and fry for a further minute.

    Add the chopped tomatoes, butter beans (drained and rinsed), sugar and dried herbs. Use the 60ml (4 tablespoons) water or vegetable stock to wash any excess tomato goodness from the tin and add that to the pan too. Season well with black pepper.

    Turn up the heat to bring the beans to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. If the sauce looks a little dry, add a little more stock and water.

    Check to see if you want to add any more salt or pepper before serving in warm bowls with the crumbled feta and the basil, parsley or fresh oregano – you might want to roughly chop the latter pair – sprinkled over the top

    From One Pan Pescatarian: 100 Delicious Dinners – Veggie, Vegan, Fish by Rachel Phipps (£20, Hodder & Stoughton), out now 

Photography: © Haarala Hamilton; © Andrew Montgomery; Paul Sirisalee; © Louise Hagger

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.