Saganaki With Walnut Vinaigrette (Greek Pan-Fried Cheese) Recipe

Saganaki is a classic Greek appetizer of pan-fried cheese, which may or may not get flambéed. Here, we give the dish a small twist, serving the cheese topped with a toasted-walnut vinaigrette.

sagnaki with walnut vinaigrette in a cast iron skillet
Photographs and video: Vicky Wasik
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Saganaki Flambé

Why It Works

  • A cast iron skillet evenly browns the cheese.
  • Crunchy walnuts and sticky honey complement the salty cheese.

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!"

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

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

Directions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. To Serve Without Flambéing: Pour walnut vinaigrette directly over fried cheese. Serve right away alongside crusty bread or crackers.

Special equipment

10-inch cast iron skillet, stick lighter

Notes

Using a stick lighter to flame the alcohol keeps your fingers safe.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
248 Calories
19g Fat
12g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 248
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 28mg 9%
Sodium 259mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 199mg 15%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 81mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)