This is the kind of dish you should learn to make by heart. By any other name, this is baked feta. Put it in a cazuela, or a small oven-to-table casserole dish, and you have a filling lunch or first course served with toasted pita. Naturally, this is superb with summer tomatoes, but it will also improve the washed-out winter tomatoes that may have found their way onto your kitchen counter. Improvise and improve to your own liking as you go, and this dish will never let you down.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C/gas 7.
Step 2: Break the feta into large chunks and place in four 8-oz/225-g square or oval bak¬ing dishes or cazuelas or one large cazuela. Top with the tomatoes, bell peppers, lemon zest, and olives. Season with pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Cover each baking dish with aluminum foil and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until warmed through, about 20 minutes, removing the foil after 15 minutes to let the cheese brown on the top.
Step 3: Meanwhile, place the pita on an open flame on the stove top, turning with long metal tongs, until toasted and warmed on all sides. Cut or tear into wedges. Place each baking dish on a plate or set a larger dish in the center of the table. Serve warm with the pita.
Sarah Copeland is the food director for Real Simple magazine. This recipe is reprinted from Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, Chronicle Books (2013).
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.