Super simple yet decidedly elegant, this is the ultimate last-minute appetizer. Use Macedonian feta if you can; with its soft, creamy texture enhanced by the heat, it spreads beautifully on a crispy cracker or toasted baguette.
8 ounces feta cheese, cubed
1⁄2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon Chili Salt (recipe below)
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1⁄2 teaspoon neutral cooking oil
1 cup grape or multi-colored cherry tomatoes, such as Juliet, Green Grape, or Yellow Pear, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, to serve
Toasted baguette slices, to serve
1/3 cup flaky sea salt
1/2 tbsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
To make the Broiled Feta:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place the feta in a medium metal baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with chili salt, black pepper, and thyme leaves. Toss gently to coat. Bake on top rack in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Switch to broil for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until feta is golden brown and a little bubbly (be sure to keep a very close eye on it and adjust time as needed; our timing is merely an estimate and it can vary from oven to oven).
Meanwhile, heat the neutral oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. Sauté halved tomatoes, along with salt and pepper, for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until softened.
Arrange feta on a serving dish and top with cooked tomatoes and basil. Serve immediately with toasted baguette slices.
To make the Chili Salt:
In a small bowl, combine sea salt with chili flakes and smoked paprika. Using your hands, massage together until well incorporated. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and let air-dry for 2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, bake in a preheated 200°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes; let cool completely before transferring to an airtight jar. Keeps in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months.