Saganaki is a traditional Greek dish of fried cheese that some Athenian restaurants flambé tableside, with 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 guest cheering, "Opa!"
Why It Works
- A cast iron skillet evenly browns the cheese.
- Crunchy walnuts and sticky honey compliment the salty cheese.
- Yield:Serves 4 as an appetizer
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:15 minutes
- 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
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
- One 5- to 6-ounce slab of halloumi or kasseri cheese (140g - 170g; or about a 1-inch thick slice)
- 1/4 cup ouzo, tsipouro with anise, or arak (optional) (2 ounces; 55g)
- Crusty bread or crackers to serve
In a small saucepan, toast the walnuts in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Stir in the honey and simmer until foamy, about 1 minute. Finish with lemon juice and parsley and set aside.
In a small cast iron skillet, preheat the neutral oil over high heat until smoking, about 3 minutes. Add the cheese and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip with a slotted offset spatula to fry the other side. Remove from heat, but leave cheese in pan.
To flambeé the cheese (optional), pour the liquor into a small pot and warm over medium heat until steaming, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and, using a stick lighter, carefully light the liquor fumes. Immediately pour the flaming alcohol over the cheese. (Use caution, as the fat in the pan will ignite in a glorious display.) Pour the walnut and honey dressing on top to put out the flames. Serve right away alongside crusty bread or crackers.
If you choose not to flambé the cheese, pour the walnut mixture directly over the fried cheese. Serve right away alongside crusty bread or crackers.