Saganaki

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Flaming Saganaki {Gluten-Free, Vegetarian} | Wheat-Free Meat-Free

If you’ve ever been to a Greek restaurant, you’ve probably witnessed sizzling pans of cheese lit on fire. (Usually accompanied with a cry of “opa!”) That is saganaki.

In researching this post, I learned the dish is called saganaki because that is the name for the type of pan it is cooked in. Anything cooked in that particular type of pan is saganaki. Which makes this technically not saganaki. This is just “regular frying pan.”

The lighting it on fire bit is not required to be saganaki. That was invented at the Parthenon restaurant in Chicago and is properly called Flaming Saganaki.

Preparing Cheese for Saganaki | Wheat-Free Meat-Free

Saganaki

  • 4 ounces Kasseri cheese
  • 3 ounces brandy, divided
  • 1 tablespoon millet flour
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. Cut the cheese into flat, wide pieces. Put the cheese and 2 ounces of brandy in a flat, wide container or a ziploc bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour, turning the cheese over halfway through.
  2. Put the flour in a flat, wide bowl. Shake any excess brandy off the cheese and lightly coat both of the broadest sides of the cheese in flour. Shake off any excess flour.
  3. Heat a small-medium pan over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Add the cheese. Cook until the cheese has just started to melt and the flour is lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Flip over. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the remaining 1 ounce of brandy to the pan and immediately light on fire. Let it burn for a short while for the cheese to get soft, then extinguish by squeezing the lemon over the top.

Serves 2-4

Preparing Saganaki | Wheat-Free Meat-Free

SAFETY NOTE: You are lighting alcohol on fire, so take the appropriate precautions! In most of my tests, the flames shot a few feet in the air. Don’t do this around anything flammable/small children/pets.

The timing on this is a bit tricky since it’s hard to get pieces of cheese a standardized size. The store where I found it always sold it in wedges, so you end up with pieces that aren’t the same thickness throughout. Like I said above, just look for a little bit of meltyness, then flip the cheese over. I only flour the two biggest sides since the other sides don’t get contact with the pan, which leaves you with a bunch of raw flour mixed in.

My first few attempts I had a hard time lighting the brandy on fire because a lot of it cooks off as soon as it hits the pan. I suggest doing the fire part as a two person job, one person dumps the brandy in, while a second person is ready with the lighter. Usually the brandy cooked off fairly quickly, but I still like the squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

This recipe is being shared in Meat Free Monday and Allergy Free Wednesday.

Looking for More Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes?

Take a look at my book, The Wheat-Free Meat-Free Cookbook: 100 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes.

A sampling of the recipes included:
  • Breakfasts: Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins, Yeasted Waffles, Gooey Butter Cake,
  • Sides: Patatas Bravas, Pea and New Potato Salad, Braised Celery,
  • Mains: Corn Waffle Sandwiches, Enchiladas with Green Sauce, Pesto Asparagus Galette, and
  • Desserts: Blueberry Mango Crisp, Baklava Rolls, Amaretto Cake.

You can see the full recipe list on the Amazon page.


Comments

  1. I’d love a vegan version of this but I don’t know what would even come close. We’re trying to limit dairy products for health reasons and also (mostly) ethical ones. I love learning the history of the original dish and the background though.

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