Zucchini, Tapenade and Feta Cheese Bites
This appetizer is ready in under 10 minutes. Slices of zucchini are topped with tapenade, California Feta cheese and basil for a fresh summery bite. This post is sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board. All opinions are my own.
Last year my parents stayed with the kids one weekend while Graz and I went to San Francisco.
We wandered the city and ate lots of food.
And did various quirky things.
The highlight of our trip was a day spent on a wine tour. We went to a bunch of different wineries and tasted a lot of wines. And then we tasted a few more (which explains why I had to lean on a wall in this picture).
The tour company provided lunch at one of the vineyards. We all swayed into a room where there was a spread of sandwiches, salads and other nibbles for us to try, while sipping on yet more wine. My favorite was an unusual Greek salad. It had slices of raw zucchini, black olives and tons of feta cheese. It was a delicious salad and definitely the best feta cheese I’ve ever tasted.
I asked our to tour guide about the feta. He said that California Feta cheese is the best in the world. I have some Greek friends who might argue with that but I’ve never been to Greece before and felt no allegiance there. With my mouth full of that briny richness, I agreed with him and ate some more.
When I got home from our trip I decided to recreate that Greek salad, but in appetizer form.
This quick appetizer recipe is made with raw slices of zucchini, tapenade, feta cheese and basil. It’s ready in under 10 minutes and is a perfect summer bite.
This appetizer recipe is super easy to make. It’s certainly nowhere near as fussy as it looks. You slice zucchini and then plop teaspoons of tapenade onto each slice. After that, don’t worry about anything. Just scatter the remaining ingredients. Trust me. The cheese is so good that the bits that aren’t on zucchini will get scooped up by hungry fingers. Just crumble the feta over the plateful and then scatter it all with some basil leaves. Done.
Since our trip to San Francisco, I’ve sampled other California dairy products and have decided that they are some of the best out there. I’ve learned a lot about them too. Did you know that California’s the number one dairy state in the US, producing more milk, butter and ice cream than any other state and that it’s the second largest producer of cheese? They have over 50 cheesemakers and produce over 250 different types of cheese (my glorious feta being only one of them!). For a complete list of California cheeses, visit here.
I think my love of California dairy is going to increase in the days ahead. This weekend at BlogHer Food (a conference for food bloggers like me) in Miami, California Milk Advisory Board is going to be doing a cool cooking demo. To celebrate May (the unofficial Hispanic dairy month) and all things Hispanic dairy, they’ve partnered with Giorgio Rapicavoli, a renowned Miami chef and co-owner of the wildly successful Eating House Restaurant in Coral Gables, FL and Taperia Raca, a Spanish tapas bar. Chef Giorgio will be hosting a lively and tasty interactive demo on May 16 from 3:15pm-4pm. I’m super-excited to learn his tips and techniques for cooking with California Hispanic dairy products. If you’re going to be at BlogHer Food, I’ll be at the demo so make sure you come say hi. The hashtag for the event is #CADairy.
And now, here’s my recipe for Zucchini, Tapenade and Feta Cheese Bites:
- a 6" zucchini cut on the diagonal into ¼" slices
- ¼ cup tapenade (black olive puree)
- ¼ cup crumbled California cow's milk Feta cheese
- 6 large basil leaves, each torn into 4 pieces
- Arrange zucchini slices on a serving platter. Top each slice with ½ teaspoon of tapenade. Sprinkle the feta cheese over top of the platter (it's o.k. if some isn't on top of the zucchini slices. Trust me that people will scoop it up with their fingers if need be). Drop the basil leaves over top and serve.