If you need a quick meze when entertaining, that requires minimal effort but has maximum effect, then this is a recipe for you.
This simple, delicious feta, rigani and garlic dip hails from Kefalonia. The last time we stayed on the island, we bought it in simple little terracotta tubs from the local 'Galaktopoleio'. I love the fact that Greece still has speciality stores instead of only homogeneous supermarkets. The Galaktopoleio, is dedicated to selling milk and dairy products - plus the odd carton of eggs and it is where you can find treats like this! I make a milder form of this dip, in Kefalonia the version at the galaktopleio had been left to mature for a little while and the cheese was very sharp and pungent.
Like with all Greek food, the success to this easy dip is using very high quality ingredients. Make sure you buy good quality Greek feta cheese, made with sheep or goat's milk and aromatic rigani from Greece. In this dip, I used some more of the wonderful range of herbs from Daphnis and Chloe - rigani which hails from the Peloponnese in Greece. You can purchase these herbs online from Homer St, Greek footsore.
The feta, garlic and rigani go very well together, and this quick meze is perfect served with some homemade pita bread, a quick tomato and red onion salad - plus a simple rustic style of wine, such as Robola from Kefalonia.
Feta, riagni and garlic dip
Serves 4, as part of a meze
Cooking time 15 mins
250g of feta
2 cloves of fresh garlic, mashed
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin Greek olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of rigani
1. Place the feta, rigani, garlic and olive oil in a blender or food processor and whir on a slow speed until smooth and well combined.
2. Spoon onto a plate and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of rigani.
3. Serve with homemade pita, salad and wine as a part of meze selection.
Greek cookbook writer, TV presenter and chef Vefa Alexiadou has collected hundreds of recipes from all over Greece for her brilliant and encyclopedic book, Vefa's Kitchen. This is her recipe for homemade pita bread and it is the best one I have used and I am sharing it here. Making pita bread is super easy and only requires a heavy cast-iron pan and spatula to flip the pita bread.
Vefa's pita bread
3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 & 1/2 cups warm (body temperature) water
Coarse corn flour/cornmeal for dusting
1. In a large bowl, add the water, olive oil, yeast, salt and sugar and let stand for five minutes or until you see that the yeast is active.
2. Using your hands, gradually add the the flour into wet and knead with your hands until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and leave in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise and rest for about 30 minutes.
3. Divide into six pieces and roll out into 8 to 10 -inch rounds that are about 1/4 inch thick. Dust both sides lightly with cornmeal and lightly poke the surface of your pita breads with the tines of a fork (careful not to poke right through).
4. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet (non-stick pan is fine as well) and heat to medium-high. You may place your pita dough on corn-meal lined pizza peel to slide onto the hot skillet.
5. Pour some oil in a small bowl and dunk some kitchen towel in it and grease your hot cast iron skillet.
6. Place your pita dough on the hot skillet and and fry the bread for a couple of minutes a side or until they start to puff and bubble up. Flip and fry the other side.
7. Place fried pita breads on to a large cotton kitchen towel and cover. Dab your kitchen towel into the bowl of vegetable oil and place another flattened pita dough on the skillet.
8. Repeat frying each pita bread and stack them, tucked inside the kitchen towel. Serve warm or allow to cool inside the kitchen towel until cooled. Store in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week or freeze.