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 cheese 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 kinds 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 to 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 I am usually 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. Let’s make it a dip. 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 have the consistency for your perfect dip.
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. It could be illegal, I don’t know (just kidding). I would like to hear from the braves though. Let me know if you’ve tried it.
Make it child-friendly!
Children usually hate spicy foods. Actually, some of them if they taste the slightest spicy ingredient, 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 to purchase the best quality feta cheese. A barrel-aged (preferably) 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 ). That’s how I save energy and I serve additional veggies on my table. Win-win cooking!
Ready! Now what?
Serve your feta cheese dip/spread with toasted bread, pitas, flatbread, French fries, or meat. Make the ultimate bruschetta and sandwich. Keep it in the fridge for about 5 days.
Mediterranean Feta Cheese Dip or Spread
- 2 chili peppers
- 2 cups (300g) feta cheese crumbled
- ½ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ½ cup (135g) 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 (roast more vegetables at once). Roast for about 20-30 minutes. Carefully remove the skin (IMPORTANT: you should wear gloves and be super careful not to touch your face especially eyes and nose) and use a fork to mash chili peppers with some olive oil.
- Add the peppers, olive oil and white wine vinegar in blender or food processor. Whizz until smooth. Add the crumbled feta cheese. If it’s too thick to whizz add some yogurt. That’s how you make the spread.
- Add the peppers, olive oil and white wine vinegar in blender or food processor. Whizz until smooth. Add the crumbled feta cheese. Add ricotta cheese and whizz until smooth to taste. Add some yogurt, if it’s too thick. That’s how you make the dip.
DIP/SPREAD EXTRA HOT
- Just 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.