Moroccan Baked Feta with Olive Tapenade is the ultimate crowd-pleasing appetizer. Serve this incredibly delicious dip with crusty bread or pita in right under 40 minutes.
The Best Baked Feta Recipe:
Picture this: Crumbles of salty feta cheese swimming in a luscious Moroccan red pepper sauce. Now picture it topped with a briny olive tapenade to round out each bite with bright flavor and freshness. THIS is my new go-to appetizer this holiday season, and trust me when I say it’s a bonafide crowd-pleaser.
Not only is this recipe aesthetically pleasing, but it offers a flavor profile that I personally crave this time of year. Because let’s be honest, most holiday appetizer spreads offer many of the same dips and small bites. So, amongst the sea of sausage balls and spinach-artichoke bread bowls, a rush of Moroccan flavor can really help revitalize the palate.
You can prepare this appetizer one day ahead and wait to bake it until ready to serve. Once warm and toasty, top it with tapenade and serve alongside crusty bread or baked pita. Both adults and kids will go wild for it!
How to Make Baked Feta Dip:
Preparing this dip couldn’t be easier, and the blender does most of the work for you. Start by combining roasted red peppers, tomato paste, harissa, garlic, and walnuts in a blender. (I buy jarred roasted red peppers instead of roasting and peeling them myself. This saves SO much time, however if you prefer the latter method, go for it!). After the mixture is smooth, transfer half of it to a 1 1/2-quart broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish. Next, sprinkle half of the feta cheese over the red pepper mixture, then spoon the remaining sauce overtop. Finish off with the remainder of the feta cheese and pop it in the oven!
The dip will roast at 425°F until hot and bubbly, which should take around 25 minutes. Once it’s baked, finish it off under the broiler for two minutes to get the feta nice and golden. Once you’re ready to serve this piping hot dish of glory, spoon the tapenade overtop and voila!
A couple notes on substitutions:
- NUTS: The recipe calls for walnuts, however you could also use almonds. For extra richness, toast either nut in a 350°F oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant.
- OLIVES: I love Castelvetrano olives for this recipe because they’re mild and super buttery. When they’re in season, you can typically find them pitted at most well-stocked olive bars. Out of season, however, I’ll either purchase them in a jar or use Cerignola olives instead.
- HARISSA: I buy Mina brand harissa paste, which is available in both spicy and mild. If you’re using harissa powder, you can make a paste by mixing it with equal parts extra-virgin olive oil.
What is Harissa Made Of?
Harissa is one of my go-to condiments when I want to add layers of complexity and heat to dishes. I use it liberally and flexibly, but it can vary in heat depending on the region and maker.
The base ingredient lineup is a variety of peppers (red peppers, serrano peppers, etc.), garlic, and spices such as coriander, saffron, and caraway. I buy mild harissa paste and if the dish needs extra heat, I’ll just add some chili flakes.
What to Serve with Baked Feta:
I love serving this cheesy baked dip with crusty bread and/or baked pita for scooping. (Bonus points if you grill the bread on a cast iron or toast in the oven before serving.) And IF you should end up with leftovers (not likely), you can turn the dip into a spread for sandwiches or wraps. It’s also delicious with roasted vegetables like eggplant and fennel, or spooned over baked white fish. Give this recipe a try for holiday entertaining and I guarantee your guests will rave about it. And don’t forget to snap a picture and tag @dishingouthealth on social so I can see your beautiful creations!
More Easy Appetizer Recipes to Try:
- 1 (16-oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained
- ½ cup walnut halves, divided
- 3 Tbsp. harissa paste
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- ⅓ cup sliced green olives (I use Castelvetrano olives)
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Crusty bread or baked pita for serving
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Combine roasted red peppers, ¼ cup of the walnuts, harissa, tomato paste, garlic, and ½ tsp. of the salt in a blender or food processor; blend until mostly smooth. Spoon half of mixture into a 1½-quart broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle half of feta cheese overtop, and then spoon remaining red pepper sauce over cheese. Top with remaining feta and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until bubbly. Turn broiler to HIGH, and broil for 2 minutes.
- While mixture bakes, prepare tapenade by combining olives, parsley, olive oil, and remaining ¼ tsp salt in a bowl. Finely chop remaining ¼ cup walnuts and stir into olive mixture.
- Top baked feta with olive tapenade and serve immediately.