Feta is the Greek culinary answer to everything. Greek cooks savor their national cheese on its own, but more often than not they use it as the base for myriad dips and spreads, or in fillings, stuffings and gratins. This recipe is a not-so-classic rendition of the time-honored feta cheese spread called htipiti. It calls for basil, which Greeks do not use as readily as mint and oregano. You can use the dip as a filling for peppers, too. Try stuffing raw green or red peppers with the mix, refrigerating until the cheese firms up, and then cutting the peppers into rounds.
This dip may be made two to three hours ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Pulse together the feta, basil, and peppercorns in a food processor until combined. Add the olive oil and lemon juice, alternating between each and pulsing after each addition, until the mixture is dense but spreads easily. Remove to a serving plate, garnish with lemon zest, and serve.
Recipe courtesy Diane Kochilas, Meze: Small Plates to Savor and Share from the Mediterranean Table, HarperCollins 2003