Cooking with Thyme: Marinated Feta Cheese with Thyme and Olives

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Marinate the cheese, thyme, and olives ahead of time and spoon them over crisp greens for a tasty salad. SERVES 6

• 8 ounces feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1 small handful thyme: 18 to 20 sprigs, 1 to 2 inches long
• 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
• 2 cloves garlic, slivered lengthwise
• 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic ­vinegar
• 1 pound romaine lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
• 1 pound spinach, washed, picked over, and stemmed
• 18 two-inch slices of bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic

1. Spread the cheese in a shallow dish and scatter the thyme, olives, and garlic over it. Drizzle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and grind fresh pepper over all. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let stand at cool room temperature for at least 2 hours, or as long as 8 hours, stirring occasionally.

2. Stack the lettuce leaves and cut them lengthwise down the center along the stem, then crosswise in 1 1/2-inch slices. If the spinach leaves are large, tear them into bite-sized pieces.

3. When ready to serve, place the lettuce on a large platter or in a shallow serving bowl. Arrange the spinach in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle the vinegar and another tablespoon of olive oil into the cheese and olive mixture and toss well; adjust the seasoning and spoon over the greens. Surround with the croutons and serve.

Susan Belsinger writes regularly for The Herb Companion and is the author of many books, most recently Basil: An Herb Lover’s Guide, with Thomas DeBaggio. She lives in Brookeville, Maryland.

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