Sure, you could buy it at a fancy market. But here’s how to DIY. 

There are certain things that are enormously helpful to have in your cooking arsenal. Little boosters of intense flavors that can take simple dishes from basic to fantastic with just a little anointment. From hot pepper jelly to jazz up a charcuterie platter to a fabulous compound butter that makes everything it touches special, keeping some secret weapons around can make everything easier, whether it is for a weeknight supper or last-minute guests.

My favorite this summer: marinated cheese! 

One of my favorite things to keep in the fridge – especially in the summer – is marinated cheese. These are soft cheeses bathed in an intensely flavored oil, which they absorb just enough to make them fun, without overwhelming their creaminess. 

7 ways to use marinated cheese right now

These uses are so easy! To begin, marinated cheese is great on a cheese board, but let's go deeper. Toss it (gently!) with chopped fresh herbs like chives or chervil or parsley, and pile on slices of crusty bread. It's also delicious in a salad, makes an instant amazing sandwich, and can turn any pasta and vegetables into pasta salad with just a toss. You can spoon marinated cheese over steamed vegetables to make them sing, stuff it inside a pork chop, or even slide under the skin of chicken before you roast it. 

Ready to find out how easy it is to make?

Marinated cheese
Credit: Getty / AnnaPustynnikova

How to make marinated cheese

This recipe can be doubled if you find you are going through the cheese quickly. Reserve the oil, strain, and use for salad dressings (there is enough flavor you likely will only need some vinegar or citrus juice to make it special). This is the version I make most often, but feel free to change it up with your own favorite flavors.

Marinated Cheese

1 cup oil (extra virgin olive for deep flavor, avocado for milder flavor)

1 shallot, sliced

Zest of one lemon in large strips, plus ½ tablespoon of the juice (or use orange for a different flavor)

2 fresh bay leaves (can sub fresh basil or tarragon)

½-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes depending on how hot you like it

½ teaspoon sumac (can sub smoked paprika or turmeric)

1 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seed

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 8-oz brick feta or log of chevre, cubed or sliced or crumbled, or small balls of fresh mozzarella

1. Place all of the ingredients except the cheese in a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium.

2. Cook until the shallot starts to sizzle, and the mustard seeds begin to pop, then turn off the heat and move the pot off the burner.

3. Let cool to room temp, then pour over your cheese in a jar. (If there is not enough oil to cover all the cheese, add a layer on top to ensure no cheese is poking up. Place in the fridge and store up to a week.)

As you use your marinated cheese (and trust me you will!) and therefore there's air inside the jar, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface to help keep it from oxidizing.