During the last heat wave it was way too hot to cook and I needed to come up with an appetizer for a Mexican-inspired party. I vaguely remembered having a wonderful marinated queso fresco somewhere. This could be the solution!
I checked out the online recipes, and found that the top four sites had exactly the SAME recipe, right down to the ‘1/4 tsp. of sweet paprika’. One mentioned that marinated queso fresco was popular in Costa Rica – I knew I had devoured it somewhere!
I proceeded to fiddle with the recipe(s) – all four of them, dropping the thyme (not very Mexicany) and adding more paprika. Here is the final result, after several adjustments.
- 1 lb queso fresco, cubed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. dried garlic ‘chips’
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 fresh jalapeño, diced
I first tried to marinate the cubes in a flat container but that didn’t work, so I ended up putting it all in an glass jar. The cheese cubes should be marinated at room temperature in the spiced olive oil for at least two hours (or more).
Once I had fished the cubes out of the oil, the final presentation looked a bit blah, despite my brightly coloured bowl. I dashed paprika on top and added some strips of jalapeño. Ultimately I decided that diced jalapeño, added early in the marinade process, looked and tasted the best.
- very mild cheese, slightly salty, not overpowering, nice texture (me)
- ¡spICY! (Eleanor’s rather alarmed opinion, I didn’t find it spicy at all)
- perfect combo with Margaritas (Mona)
You can keep it in the fridge; just be aware that the olive oil turns solid at this temperature, and you have to bring it out for at least a half hour to get it to ‘melt’.
I used dried garlic chips rather than fresh garlic because fresh garlic does not keep that well in oil. If you do use fresh garlic then plan on eating it right away.
The leftover marinating oil can mixed with vinegar to make wonderful salad dressings! With these particular spices I found plain or white wine vinegar to work best.