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Saganaki: Pan-Seared Greek Cheese

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Greek Saganaki - Fried Cheese Appetizer

Cheese Saganaki - Pan-Seared Cheese Appetizer

Photo © Jim Stanfield

In Greek: σαγανάκι (pronounced sah-ghah-NAH-kee)

Saganaki dishes take their name from the pan in which they are made. A sagani is a two-handled pan that is made in many different materials. In the market, look for a small paella pan, small cast iron skillet, or even an oval au gratin dish.

Serve this as an appetizer, as an hors d'oeuvre, or as part of a meal made up of a varied selection of mezethes. The key to success with this dish is to get the oil hot (before it starts to smoke) before frying.

For an updated/different recipe, click here: Saganaki | The Flaming Greek Cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (about 1/2 kg) of kefalotyri or kasseri cheese (or pecorino romano)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2/3 cup of flour for dredging
  • 2-3 lemons, quartered

Preparation:

Cut the cheese into slices or wedges that are 1/2 inch thick by 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Moisten each slice with cold water and dredge in the flour. In a sagani (Greek pan used for this dish) or a small heavy-bottomed frying pan (cast-iron works best), heat the oil over medium-high heat, and sear each slice in 1 tablespoon of oil until golden-brown on both sides. Serve hot with a last-minute squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Serve with ouzo or wine, olives, vegetable mezethes, tomatoes, and crusty bread.

Yield: 6 servings

Notes:

  • If desired, the cheese can be dipped into beaten egg (after the flour).
  • If you enjoy a little pepper, add some fresh ground black pepper to the flour before dredging the cheese.
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