I don’t know about you guys, but I could eat Greek food almost every day and not get tired of it. The flavors are right up my alley: lemon, garlic, oregano, etc. I think I was about 13 years old the first time I ever had a gyro and discovered what would be a life long love affair with Greek food.
Growing up in a small town, we didn’t really have many places to “hang out” and the mall was the spot where we gathered. Specifically, The Food Court. It had the obligatory salad place, pizza chain, Chinese take-out, etc… But one day, a Greek restaurant went in.
Color Me Intrigued. I wanted to try it, but I was skeptical because he never had any customers.
I figured it had to be questionable if there wasn’t a line around the corner. Still, I would give it the once over pretty much everyday. I would smile and nod politely as I made my way to the predictable pizza place. Even as a kid, I was fairly open to new things and I remember walking past it repeatedly, as if I was casing the joint, trying to decide if I wanted to give it a go.
Finally one day, after weeks of polite smiles and “no thank you’s”, the big, burly man behind the counter called out to me in his boisterous, booming voice thick with a heavy Greek accent “You want gyro? Come on, come try it” Well, I couldn’t be rude, so I nonchalantly sauntered over as if I wasn’t jumping for joy on the inside and said “yeah, sure.” because I was So Cool. Let me tell you, I remember that first bite. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted in my measly 13 years and it left an impression. After that, I happily went to the Greek spot while my friends went to the pizza place. Slowly, they started migrating over and a few of them became loyal customers. Good food is good food, no matter how old you are.
My memory is sketchy at best most days, but when you ask me about FOOD memories, it’s spot on. I may not remember what I did on a certain date or everything I saw on vacation, but I can surely tell you what I ate and if I loved it, I can describe it in vivid detail. That first taste of gyro was no different.
Since then, I’ve moved on to just about everything I can get my hands on. When I’m having one of those “I don’t know what I feel like eating” days, Greek food is always on standby. We’ve even made reservations for a Greek restaurant after we see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”. My Big Fat, Greek Wedding will always be in my top 20 favorite movies, it’s one of those that still makes me laugh even though I’ve seen it a dozen times. All I have to say is “put Windex on it” and everyone knows exactly what I’m referring to, or perhaps the funniest line: “what you mean, he no eat meat? That’s ok, I make lamb.” Classic.
Now, a word about this recipe. It may seem a little fussy and perhaps more trouble than it’s worth. I promise you, it’s worth it. Working with phyllo dough can be a bit of a pain, I’m not going to lie about that. There are a few tips that will make it easier to manage and once you are on a roll, it’s a snap. Possibly the best thing about these (aside from their deliciousness) is they freeze beautifully. When I make appetizers like this, I make extra. You’re already making them, so do the work once and benefit from it twice! Wrapped up properly, they will last a few months in the freezer and the next time you have people over, all you have to do is pop them in the oven & voila! Instant cocktail party.
One word of advice: Read the recipe all the way through before you begin. Get yourself set up and organized before you start so you aren’t scrambling for something right when you need it. This is true for 99% of recipes, but especially true when working with phyllo dough!
- you will need a pastry brush and clean kitchen towel, a piping bag is a plus if you have one
For the Phyllo
- 1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped fine
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, rinsed and chopped fine
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano, chopped
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 package phyllo dough
- 4 TB butter, melted and slightly cooled
For the Dip
- 7 ounces feta, crumbled, room temp
- 2 ounces cream cheese, room temp
- 2 TB olive oil
- Start with the Dip: In a food processor (I use my mini for this), Combine cheeses and olive oil until silky smooth. Scoop into bowl, cover & refrigerate. Done.
Onto the Filling
- For the mushrooms- I put them into the food processor and pulse about 10 - 12 times until they are uniformly chopped with no pieces bigger than a pea. Ideally, a lentil size... but you don't want them to be complete mush.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat and drizzle in the tablespoon of olive oil. Saute mushrooms until they have released ALL of their liquid. Stir occasionally so they don't burn, when they are almost dry, you can turn down the heat to let the last of the liquid evaporate.
- (This step is VERY important, so don't get impatient. If you put wet mushrooms into the phyllo, it will be a soggy mess)
- Once the mushrooms have given up all their liquid, combine them with the olives, feta & oregano.
- Stir to combine and set aside.
- Unwrap phyllo dough and unroll so it's flat. Lay clean kitchen towel over it. You must keep it covered or it will dry out.
- Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the counter with the long edge closest to you (it's paper thin and very fragile... be patient) using the pastry brush, brush a thin layer of butter over the phyllo and place another sheet of dough on top. Repeat once more. You should have 3 layers of phyllo now with butter between each layer.
- (If the phyllo rips, it's not a big deal... Place another sheet on top and butter it up. Once it's assembled, you'll never see it.)
- Place a layer of the filling on the edge closest to you. I find it easiest to do this with a piping bag, but if you don't have one, a spoon works fine. You'll want the filling to be about as thick as a stalk of celery.
- Once you have a line of filling across the length of phyllo, roll it up tightly and butter the top.
- Try to work as quickly as you can, as the phyllo tends to dry out and you don't want it to break. If you notice that it is starting to dry out: put some butter on it. It will buy you some time
- Once it's all rolled up and buttered, cut into 2 inch pieces and place on a sheet pan.
- Cover and refrigerate. Repeat until filling is gone.
- Place in a 425 - 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Keep a close eye on them. (They will go from pale to burnt quickly.)
I know this recipe seems daunting, but it really isn't difficult. I wanted to give you tips and advice along the way to bypass any mishaps, just in case anything went wrong.
- Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata) by Angels Home Sweet Homestead
- Greek-Style Sliders with Feta Aioli by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Kalamata Phyllo Cigars with Whipped Feta by Pook’s Pantry
- Rosemary and Olive Grissini by What Smells So Good?
- Socca Pizza with Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Feta by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Spanakopita Bites by My Imperfect Kitchen
- Tiropitas (Greek Cheese Triangles ) by Moore or Less Cooking
- Tyropita Appetizer Bites by The Freshman Cook
- Avgolemono Chicken Zoodle Soup by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Quick and Easy Greek Avgolemono Soup by Confessions of a Cooking Diva
- Shrimp Avgolemono with Spinach by Monica’s Table
- Vegetarian Magiritsa (Greek Easter Soup) by Palatable Pastime
- Baklava French Toast with Cinnamon Honey Syrup by A Mind Full Mom
Greek Main Dishes:
- Brizola (Greek-style Pork Chops) by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Chicken Greek Salad Flatbread by Family Foodie
- Greek Chirashi Sushi by NinjaBaker
- Greek Breakfast Wraps by Brunch-n-Bites
- Greek Meatball Salad by Magnolia Days
- Gyro Meatballs with Lemon Rice by Casa de Crews
- Kotopita (Greek Chicken Pie) by Curious Cuisiniere
- Mediterranean Meatball Gyro Sandwich by Life Tastes Good
- Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Roasted Vegetables by Food Lust People Love
- Souvlaki Chicken Wraps with Homemade Tzatziki by The Crumby Cupcake
- Youvetsi (Greek beef or lamb and orzo stew) by Caroline’s Cooking
Greek Side Dishes:
- Greek-style rice salad by Pine Needles In My Salad
- Greek Zucchini Fritters by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Homemade Tzatziki Sauce by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Spanakorizo by Feeding Big and More
- Chocolate Baklava by The Chef Next Door
- Greek Lemon Cake by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Greek Spice Cake by Our Good Life
- Greek Walnut Cake by Pies and Plots
- Greek Wedding Cookies – Kourabiethes/Kourabiedes by La Bella Vita Cucina
- Loukoumades – Greek Donuts by The TipToe Fairy
- Loukoumades (Greek honey fritters) by The Redhead Baker
- Ouzito: The Greek Mojito by Hardly A Goddess
Plus Baked Shrimp with Feta plus More Greek Cuisine from Sunday Supper Movement
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