Spice up your life with these favorites from chef Joanne Weir:
FIERY PEPPERED FETA WITH PITA
1 cup yogurt, drained in a paper-towel lined sieve for 4 hours
10 ounces feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Black olives as a garnish
3 loaves fresh pita bread, each loaf cut into 8 to 12 wedges
Drain the yogurt in a paper-towel lined sieve for 4 or preferably overnight.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Place the yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon salt and feta in a bowl and with a fork, mash together to make a smooth paste. Alternately this can be pulsed in a food processor to make a smooth paste.
Add the garlic, cayenne, paprika, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Wrap the pita tightly in foil and place in the oven until warm, 10 minutes.
Spread puree on a serving plate.
Drizzle with the ½ tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and garnish with olives.
Serve with warm pita.
ROASTED BEET, AVOCADO, AND WATERCRESS SALAD
1 ½ pounds medium beets (red or gold), washed
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ small red onion, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rings
2 avocados, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices
2 bunches watercress, stems discarded
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the beets in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon water.
Roll the beets to coat them.
Cover the beets with foil and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 60 to 80 minutes.
Allow them to cool enough to handle.
Peel the beets and cut into thin ¼-inch slices and reserve.
Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until light golden and hot to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, orange juice, sherry vinegar, and orange zest.
Season with salt and pepper.
Toss half of the vinaigrette with the beets and place the beets on a platter.
Top with the onion and avocado slices.
Toss the watercress and pecans with the remaining vinaigrette and place on top of the salad.