THIS DELICIOUS spread from Olympi and other villages of southern Chios is made with the local tiny and intensely flavored tomatoes and the sharp kopanisti—a blue-type spreadable cheese, very similar to the ricotta forte of Italy’s Puglia. Neither of these two key ingredients is available outside the island, but I was determined to find substitutes, because I love this spread. In the summer, use ripe red tomatoes and bake them to concentrate their flavor—in other seasons, good-quality canned tomatoes are fine. Because the more common blue cheeses lack the pungency of kopanisti, add a few tablespoons of rum or vodka. Good fruity olive oil binds all the flavors together.
Serve with plenty of fresh crusty bread or Savory Barley and Wheat Biscuits and/or some cut-up raw vegetables.
Arrange the tomatoes cut side up in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Just before serving, mash the cheeses in a bowl with a fork, then mix in the tomatoes. Don’t try to make a homogenous paste; it should be somewhat coarse. Add the vodka or rum, if using. Drizzle with the oil and stir to mix, but don’t try to completely incorporate it into the spread. Transfer the spread to a shallow serving bowl, drizzle with more oil, if desired, sprinkle with the mint and serve.
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