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Persian fetta is a shapeshifter, capable of both remaining firm and stead-fast when crumbled across the top of a platter or salad, and of yielding to a soft, velvety cream to enhance all manner of dishes from pasta to pesto. Here, I’ve utilised it in both capacities, first as a body-builder for the kind of creamy, funky schmear we’ve come to see in modern Australian restaurants, and then left in its un-squished form, dotted along the top to add texture and movement.
6 medium red capsicums
4 unpeeled cloves garlic (see tips)
275g jar Yarra Valley Dairy Persian fetta
400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
1 teaspoon salt flakes (plus extra for sprinkling)
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped (optional but excellent)
1/4 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon piment d’espelette (see tips)
Medium Turkish pide to serve
Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan)
Line a shallow tray with baking paper
Slice the tops off the capsicums and twist out the seedy centres and pithy membranes.
In a big bowl, toss together the capsicums and garlic cloves with the oil and aromatics from the YVD fetta jar. Arrange the capsicum cut-side down on the baking tray, along with the garlic cloves.
Roast for 35-40 minutes until capsicums are blistered and burnished and the garlic is buttery inside.
Meanwhile, reserve a good spoonful of fetta for garnish. Add the rest of the fetta and residual oil in the jar to a blender (see tips). Blitz with the drained butter beans, sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt flakes, until smooth and whipped. Once the garlic is roasted and cool enough to touch, squish the flesh out into the mix and blitz again to combine. Taste for seasoning.
To easily remove the skins from the capsicums, pull them out of the oven and cover with foil, or a second (inverted) oven tray, then leave for 15 minutes to steam. Once capsicum are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off, then slice cheeks into thin slivers.
While the oven’s still hot, slice pide through, not quite to the bottom, then pop into the oven to warm through.
To serve, scoop whipped fetta mix onto a large platter in undulating waves. Arrange capsicum slices on top in bright red glossy cheeks. Dress with the pan juices, sprinkle with parsley, piment d’espelette, almonds and an extra drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt flakes. Finish with a final flourish of reserved fetta. Pop pide nearby and encourage guests to scoop and dip to their heart’s content.
4 large capsicums will do the trick, but I tend to allow for 1 medium capsicum per person for a substantial entree.
For a shortcut, slice the capsicums in half before roasting for 30-35 minutes, skin-side up.
If you’d prefer not to fuss about with the garlic, use ¼ tsp of garlic powder instead.
If you can’t find butter beans, cannellini beans will work too.
Piment d’espellete is a kind of sweet, fruity chilli powder that works especially well for Spanish-style dishes. If you’d prefer to use something that’s already in the cupboard, smoky paprika or chilli flakes will fit the bill.
I like to keep most of the peppercorns from the jar through my mix, because of the surprise pops of heat, but if you’d prefer to keep yours milder, you can fish out the peppercorns as you scoop the fetta, prior to blitzing.