I'm keeping it warm and cosy today with this baked feta dish. This dish is on repeat in my house at the moment and is fast becoming a firm favourite with the whole family. It's rich and warming and perfect for a chilly January. This recipe was inspired by a recipe I came across on Mark Bittman's website which is also an adaptation of this recipe here. Funny how recipes come about isn't it. The original recipe by David Tamarkin is really good, but I wanted something else. I wanted baked feta in tomato sauce, with spinach rather than kale and I wanted it to be spicy. David Tamarkin's recipe came close to what I wanted but it wasn't quite there. So I adapted it to make this, baked feta in a rich, spicy tomato sauce with chickpeas and spinach.
I think this is how our food should be, always evolving, making changes to suit our own tastes. Unless you are baking of course, then you should follow the recipe to the letter. Baking is a whole other ball game. Other recipes are different, you can play around with them and you should, I think. And I'm not very good at following recipes to the letter anyway, I think it's the rebel in me, buried deep down in my subconscious! Anyway, that, I think is where the magic happens with recipes, you tweak, adapt, and you adjust until it becomes something else, something that is your own.
Anyway back to this baked feta, the secret to this dish is in the sauce. A good helping of harissa in the tomato sauce makes it spicy yes, but also gives that sauce another layer of flavour that complements that creamy feta. Baked feta is a joy on its own and makes for a very nice appetiser. Baked feta in tomato sauce with chickpeas and spinach, however, is a whole other meal. It makes for a very good lunch, especially served with some good crusty bed. The addition of chickpeas and spinach makes it filling and virtuous almost.
How To Make Baked Feta with Chickpeas and Spinach:
Start with the tomato sauce, cook down the onion for a good 10 minutes, add in the oregano and garlic then add the harissa. Two cans of chopped tomatoes are then added and they need to cook down and reduce to an almost jammy sauce. This sauce is magic, its spicy, warming and rich. Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, then tuck in the feta and bake. It really is that easy. Once the feta is soft and a little tinged around the edges you're done. Finish off the dish with some lemon juice, parsley and serve it with some good crusty bread. The recipe below will make enough for a light lunch for 3, however, it also makes enough for a perfectly good dinner for two.
Baked Feta with Chickpeas and Spinach
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil + more for drizzling
- 1 onion (150g) finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 ½ tablespoon harissa
- 2 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 x 400g can of chickpeas drained and rinsed under the cold tap
- 1 x 200g block of feta cut into 3 thick strips
- 60 g baby leaf spinach any thick stems removed
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- A small handful of flat leaf parsley leaves picked and chopped
- The juice of half a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon of cracked black pepper + more for the feta
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Lemon wedges to serve
- Crusty bread to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C / 392F.
- In a cast iron skillet heat 1 and a half tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft, for about 10 minutes. Stir the onion often so it doesn't catch.
- Stir in the dried oregano and the garlic and cook for a minute, until you can smell the garlic. Now add the harissa and stir that into the onion. Pour the chopped tomatoes into the skillet and stir well. Add the salt and pepper then turn up the heat, bring the sauce to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Or until the sauce is nice and thick.
- Once the sauce is nice and thick, add the chickpeas and stir in the spinach. Place the feta in the sauce, add some thyme onto the feta along with a sprinkling of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.Carefully place the skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Once the feta is soft and a little browned take the skillet out of the oven, squeeze half a lemon over everything and sprinkle over the parsley.Serve hot with some good crusty bread and lemon wedges.
- Calories are approximate and are based on a serving of 3.
- This recipe was roughly adapted from this recipe here
- I used a 23cm cast iron skillet.
- My cast iron skillet is well seasoned, if you use a cast iron skillet please make sure it is well seasoned. The acid in the tomatoes may damage the cast iron if it is not well seasoned.
- If you don't have a cast iron skillet then any stove to oven pan will do.
- If you can, use a firm block of feta, if the feta is too crumbly it may break up in the sauce.
- The sauce is on the spicy side, my 12-year-old loved it, however, younger kids may find it too much. For younger taste buds I would reduce the harissa to 1 or half a tablespoon. Start with a half tablespoon then test the sauce and add more if you need it.
More Cheesy Veggie Lunches for Chilly Days:
- Goat's Cheese Tart with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Tart
- Harissa Roasted Vegetable Pasta
- Vegetable Pasta Bake
- Vegetarian Quesadilla
- Artichoke & Spinach Flatbread Pizza
If you’ve tried this or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more delicious food.
Are you using harissa paste or powder in this?
Hi Caroline, I use Harissa paste for this recipe.