Greek Spicy Feta Cheese Dip – Tirokafteri

September 16, 2014

spicy feta dip Greek

According to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes eating full fat cheese is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes by 23%… I like this study.

I often get this question about the amount of cheese consumed in the Mediterranean Greek diet: is it healthy? Don’t Greeks eat a lot of cheese?
Well yes, they do. In fact, depending on the source Greeks consume the most cheese per person in the world. Feta is probably responsible for this, as we eat it with almost every meal. Cheese is in essence the main source of protein in the traditional Greek diet, since the main course was usually vegetables or legumes.

Today (unfortunately) Greek super markets are full of processed low-fat yellow cheeses that are not Greek and many buy them thinking that it will help them lose weight. The result; no satisfaction because these cheeses have little taste, but no weight loss either, as we all know saving 20 calories by eating a low-fat piece of cheese instead of regular fat, is not enough if the rest of the diet is not that great.

My point is this: go ahead and have a flavorful full-fat piece of cheese, it will be fine if the rest of your diet is Mediterranean based with plenty of vegetables, olive oil, fruit and legumes.

With that I present you with a yummy Greek feta cheese dip that I have changed just a little: tirokafteri which translate into “hot cheese”. It basically is feta cheese mashed with a bit of olive oil and a hot pepper. It is a very common appetizer and when we order it , it lasts just a few minutes. While you can dip different things in it, I really think it is best with bread. I added some Greek yogurt to make it a bit fluffier and experimented with using a jalapeño pepper (it was really good) rather than a regular hot pepper.

Greek Spicy Feta Cheese Dip – Tirokafteri

Greek Spicy Feta Cheese Dip – Tirokafteri

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces feta
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 hot pepper (can be fresh or canned)

Instructions

  1. Mash the feta with the yogurt until you have a paste ( it will be a bit grainy).
  2. Add the olive oil and vinegar and mix well.
  3. In a food processor mince the hot pepper (without the seeds), add to the feta mixture and blend well.
  4. Let it sit in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.

Notes

You can sprinkle with oregano or parsley for decoration.

Photo by Elena Paravantes

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15 Comments

  • Reply Kristin Newkirk September 17, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Looks wonderful going to try it.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Thanks Kristin!

  • Reply Sallie September 17, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I’d never seed the pepper – heat good! Otherwise looks tasty.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks. You also want this dip somewhat smooth, so you want to take the seeds out for that reason.

  • Reply r.a. September 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you for this information, I have not heard about study elsewhere. I have high cholesterol and am told endlessly by the medical profession to only consume fat free dairy foods. You are so right, the fake fat reduced cheese has little taste and no satisfaction and I have often told my husband I don’t understand why we are told it is best to consume foods as close to how they occur in nature with the exception of dairy.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 18, 2014 at 6:11 am

      The study was presented recently at the conference I mention. However, in the past there have been several studies that show that full-fat dairy have benefits. Of course they should be consumed in moderate amounts and the rest of the diet should have mainly monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado etc.)

  • Reply Elswith Petrakovic September 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I will make it and try it but just looking at the recipe think I want to add some garlic…

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 18, 2014 at 6:09 am

      Garlic goes well with feta, but it may overwhelm this particular dip.Let me how it turns out!

  • Reply laura November 4, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I used your recipe as a map tonight. I was looking for the flavor, heat and creaminess we get when we go to Astoria for dinner. So, Trader Joe’s has. New Hatch Chili Salsa that I used instead of the fresh pepper. Cut vinegar out, used a squeeze of lemon and added some finely chopped parsley. Great proportions, lovely heat.

    Thinned with a bit of low fat buttermilk, it would be a tasty salad dressing, too!

    Thanks

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD November 5, 2014 at 7:29 am

      Love your additions Laura!

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