Unquestionably tzatziki is the king of the Greek Mediterranean dips! However, there are quite a few other Mediterranean dips that are equally tasteful, insanely delicious and ridiculously easy to prepare. Like Tirokafteri, a dip with feta cheese and chili peppers. A divine balance of saltiness/tanginess from feta and that spicy, hot flavor that only chili peppers provide. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, spicy and rich in texture.
Hard to find anything that doesn’t go with that feta dip (except for fish…just … don’t). Perfect with fresh or roasted, caramelized veggies, all kind of sandwiches, on the top of toasted homemade whole wheat bread, eggs, French fries, pasta, and meat like souvlaki. You may serve it from casual parties to formal dinners and it will juice up almost any meal. It could even work for breakfast for those who don’t mind to spice up their mornings.
What more could you possibly want from a dip?
My proposition: Make Greek crostini with exclusively Mediterranean ingredients which are as close to their natural form as possible. Whole wheat bread, olives, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, radish and no processed delis like naturally cured prosciutto or Jamon Serrano.
So let me introduce you the ultimate Mediterranean dip and give you all the tips for the best homemade tirokafteri!
Make it a spread!
If you follow the basic recipe (see below) the consistency is more that of a spread than a dip. Which it is definitely not a problem if you fancy a thick mixture to spread over crunchy toasted right from the oven bread. To tell you the truth this is how we like it around here. Tirokafteri is the spread that comes before (or with) salad so that you have the time to eat it as an appetizer with half loaf of bread (lol). Well, I’m not kidding because tirokafteri on crusty bread is so good that zillion times I am full when the main dishes make their appearance on the table.
Make it a dip!
So, you don’t fancy that thick consistency of a spread. Right!! No problem. In Greece, we like to add smooth soft white cheeses such as manouri and anthotyro but I see that you will have a hard time to purchase them. That’s why I recommend ricotta cheese. If you cannot find ricotta, yogurt will work just fine. Add soft cheeses, ricotta or yogurt into the mixture to make the dip you like.
Make it extra hot! (seriously?)
You may spice it up even more with red pepper flakes and spicy paprika but truth be told I have never been that bold, so I cannot recommend 2 chili peppers plus flakes and paprika in your dip. I could be illegal, I don’t know. I would like to hear from the braves though. Let me know if you’ve tried it.
Make it child-friendly!
Unless your child loves spicy food, children usually hate spicy foods. Actually, they run like crazy with their tongues out of their mouth searching for water. I get it and I like to find a solution for them to enjoy tirokafteri with a twist. Instead of chili peppers, add sweet red peppers and I assure you they gonna ask for more!
Whatever the texture or the taste of your dip, the most important tip is: a good-quality – preferably barrel aged and spicy – feta cheese will give extra tanginess. Heaven!
I always roast the chili peppers because I think that their smoky flavor is the secret that distinguishes an ordinary tirokafteri from the ultimate one. However, I don’t roast only two peppers but additionally a batch of sweet red peppers that I keep in vinegar (but this is a whole new post coming soon). That’s how I save energy (and the environment) and I have additional goodies on my table. Win-win cooking!
Keep it in a jar or other food container for about 5-7 days in the fridge.
- 2 chili peppers
- 2 cups (300g/0.66lbs) crumbled feta cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ½ cup (135g/0.30lbs) ricotta cheese (optional)
- Yogurt (optional)
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Spicy paprika (optional)
- Preheat oven at 180°C/ 356°F. Place chili peppers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (you may roast more vegetables like sweet peppers). Roast for 20-30 minutes. Carefully remove the skin (wearing gloves) and use a fork to mash chili peppers with some olive oil.
- Add peppers, olive oil and white wine vinegar in blender or food processor. Whizz until smooth to taste. Add feta cheese. If it’s too thick to whizz add some yogurt. That’s how you make the spread.
- Add ricotta cheese and whizz until smooth to taste. Add some yogurt, if it’s too thick. That’s how you make a dip.
- Add red pepper flakes and/or spicy paprika to your spread or dip. That’s how you make it extra hot!
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to set.
- Serve with toasted bread, pita, flatbread, French fries, meat, sandwiches. In the fridge for about 5-7 days.