Saganaki is a traditional Greek dish of fried cheese that some Athenian restaurants flambé tableside, using a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to put out the flames. Here, that classic gets a makeover with crunchy walnuts, floral honey, and fresh parsley. Serve it alongside crusty bread or crackers for a spectacular appetizer that'll have your guests cheering, "Opa!"
Why It Works
- A cast iron skillet evenly browns the cheese.
- Crunchy walnuts and sticky honey complement the salty cheese.
- Yield:Serves 4 as an appetizer
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:15 minutes
- For the Walnut Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts (about 1 ounce; 30g)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (1/2 ounce; 15g)
- 2 tablespoons honey (1 ounce; 30g)
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/4 of a lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- For the Cheese:
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
- One 5- to 6-ounce slab halloumi or kasseri cheese (140 to 170g; about a 1-inch-thick slice)
- To Flambé (optional):
- 1/4 cup ouzo, tsipouro with anise, or arak (2 ounces; 55g); optional
- To Serve:
- Crusty bread or crackers, for serving
For the Walnut Vinaigrette: In a small saucepan, toast walnuts in olive oil over medium heat until nuts are golden brown and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Stir in honey and simmer until foamy, about 1 minute. Finish with lemon juice and parsley and set aside.
For the Cheese: In a small cast iron skillet, heat neutral oil over high heat until smoking, about 3 minutes. Add cheese and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip, using a slotted offset spatula, to fry the other side. Remove from heat, leaving cheese in the pan.
To Flambé (optional): Pour alcohol into a small pot and warm over medium heat until steaming, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and, using a stick lighter (see note), carefully light the fumes from the alcohol. Immediately pour the flaming alcohol over the cheese. (Use caution, as the fat in the pan will ignite in a glorious display.) Pour walnut vinaigrette on top to put out the flames. Serve right away alongside crusty bread or crackers.
To Serve Without Flambéing: Pour walnut vinaigrette directly over fried cheese. Serve right away alongside crusty bread or crackers.