Like a moth to a flame, when the weather starts cools off, I start craving comfort food.
Coming from an Italian-American family, the foods I find most cozy takes shape in the form of cheese or pasta. Over the years I’ve gone from eating mozzarella at nearly every meal to exercising a bit more restraint, but when the cold weather hits, the craving is still there. The ultimate is when it’s melty and gooey cheese like in this herbed roasted cheese.
This recipe is a riff on baked Brie (a familiar holiday appetizer) that I turn to when time is short but comfort food is in high demand. It’s such a simple concept but it’s highly versatile and can be used as an indulgent appetizer, a salad centerpiece, or an impromptu take on mac-and-cheese. In my dream world, it would be kosher to throw the melty hunk of cheese inside a whole loaf of bread to make a behemoth version of a grilled cheese, but I haven’t gone there. At least not yet.
Pretty. Easy. Herbed Roasted Cheese Recipe
Makes 6 to 8 servings
8 ounces soft-ripened cheese such as Explorateur, Reblochon, Robiola Bosina, or Taleggio (can substitute brie)
1 medium shallot, sliced paper thin
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
1 tablespoons fresh oregano, marjoram or thyme leaves
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat oven to 350°F and arrange rack in the middle.
Place cheese in a small ovenproof dish scatter with shallots, garlic, herbs, and red pepper flakes (if using). Drizzle with oil, season with salt, and a freshly ground black pepper. Bake, basting once or twice, until cheese is melty and begins to bubble, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve or use in one of the following ways:
Sweet Version: Top it with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, herbs, and omit the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes
Cheese Platter: Serve with dried cranberries, cherries, or apples; fresh apple or pear wedges; roasted nuts; and some crackers
Makeshift Fondue: Use toothpicks or skewers to dip a mix of items, such as cubed toasted bread, some fresh pears or apples, blanched vegetables, or roasted root vegetables
Green Salad: Serve over a bed of mixed greens with thinly sliced pears, fennel, and a drizzle of your favorite vinegar
Faux Mac and Cheese: Boil a short pasta according to package directions, save 1 cup of the pasta water, drain pasta. Add half the cheese and pasta water and toss with a few spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt until well coated. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add more pasta water as needed. Serve topped with remaining cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
Pretty Easy is a monthly feature showcasing doable, yet interesting recipes. Even those who claim they can’t cook, find success with these recipes.