Some people don’t want to attempt to cook Greek food because a few of the dishes are pretty complex. Well, this isn’t one of them. The worst thing about making these tasty pastries is that they take a little time. I’d say start to finish in about an hour.
The name Tiropita (pronounced tee-RO-pee-ta) translates literally to “cheese pie”. This recipe is actually for what I affectionately call Tiropitaki. You see, adding “aki” on the end of a Greek word means “little” so these are actually small cheese pies.
As a side note, my little cousin Sonia likes to call ME cousinaki – despite the fact that I’m at least a foot taller and almost double her weight…
Tiropitas, and the closely related Spanakopita (spinach pie), are sold on almost every street corner in Greece. These are basically the Egg McMuffin of Greece.
To make them, you’re going to need the following:
- 1 pound of crumbled Feta cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of parsley
You’ll also need a one pound package of Phyllo Dough, which you can find in your grocer’s freezer section. It’s going to need to sit in the fridge at least 12-24 hours in order to come up to working temperature.
Finally 1/2 pound melted butter which will be brushed all over these little babies as you’re putting them together.
Here is a short list of things to do before putting the pastries together. You need to do this because the Phyllo dough will dry out and ruin fairly quickly. So once you are ready to begin you’re racing against the clock.
- Put a couple of sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap down on the counter so you’ve got a large area to work on.
- Melt two 1/4 lb. sticks of butter in the microwave – but keep an eye on it and stop it right when the butter is melted. We don’t want it hot, just melted.
- Open your Phyllo dough, spread it all out flat, then cut the entire stack in half so that you’ve got two stacks each about the size of a piece of paper. Stack them and cover with a couple of damp paper towels. And I mean barely damp… wet will ruin your Phyllo.
Making the filling is the easiest part. In a mixing bowl put in three well beaten eggs then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Crumble in the pound of feta making sure that the crumbles are as small as you can get them. The smaller the better and it will affect the quality of the finished product so don’t rush! Finally, mix thoroughly.
Take two sheets of dough and lay them on your work surface. Lightly brush them with butter and then place one large spoonful of filling vertically in the center and about 1 inch from the top edge of the Phyllo.
Fold both sides of the Phyllo in thirds over the filling and then brush on some more butter all along the pastry.
Finally, starting at the end nearest the filling, fold the tiropita end over end until it is completely rolled up. Make sure and keep the folds fairly tight. As the pastry cooks it the layers will fluff up by themselves, so don’t leave a lot of slack in there.
As you complete each one, place them on a baking sheet which has been lightly pre-oiled. I like to use PAM baking spray with olive oil, but you could also use a stick of butter or just put some olive oil on a paper towel and wipe it down.
Bake the tiropitas in a pre-heated oven for 15-25 minutes at 400 degrees. You’ll have to keep an eye on them pretty closely as cook times vary. You are looking for the pastries to turn a light golden brown. They are excellent when served warm.
One final hint; you can store the leftovers in the fridge but when you go to reheat them you must do it in an oven or toaster oven. The microwave will simply ruin them as they need to be slightly crispy to be enjoyed.
My Yiayia puts fresh dill to give it colour. My favourite food as a kid!
yes!!! my yiayia also used parmesan and ricotta as well as some finely grated white cheddar…awesome! i cannot get ricotta where i live so i substitute small (dry) curd cottage cheese-aka as lasagne style cottage cheese. The result is DIVINE– fit for the gods (and goddesses!) KalÃ Ã³reksi!
Teddy G says
Adding riccota is definitley a nice touch. My Yiya also uses a little bit of Parmesan WITH the feta and riccota and it makes for an extremely delicious (and cheesy Tiropita)! I reccommend both additions.
plz…can u teach me all the tricks about homemade phyllo dough?? i have already tried it…and i have made strudells with it…but i have a little problem …when i wwork with this dough…i lose lots of dough…bcz those little pieces that i can not thing becomes hard…and then i can’t re use it again…i hope u understand what i mean…my english is not good enough to explain… plz…i need to learn all posiible things about this dough… temperature, ingredientes…trick…etc… i beg u to help me bcz i need to do more than 2000 mini desserts with it for next month..plzzzzzzz!!! thank u very much!
John P. says
Thanks very much for the tips! I’ll definitely try all of your suggestions. I never met a Tiropita I didn’t love! :-)
In addition to my above comment: I also use some riccoto cheese in my recipe to take away the saltiness of the feta. 8 yolks i whole egg 8 ounces riccota and all the rest that is in the orignal recipe. Try it!
I would like to offer a correction on the affectionate name “tiropitakia”. Tiropita = cheese pie, tiropitakia = little cheese pie, for example in Greek we name a man Panagioti when he is a child we call him Panagitaki which trabslates into litte Panagioti. This is a good recipe, however you will have more puffiness in the filo if you use the yolk of the eggs only, and olive oil instead of butter to brush on the filo.
David Dunn says
Thanks for the link John!
That is what I was looking for. I always thought it was a Greek dish.
John P. says
I’m glad you enjoyed it Dave, and by all means feel free to share the recipe!
I tend to like my Tiropita fairly plain because I don’t really eat vegtables, but I encourage you to experiment. Tiropitas are basically the “egg omelette” of Greece. They are the most typical breakfast item, so I don’t see why you wouldn’t put all kinds of stuff in there just like we do here!
The other dish I think you are referring to is called Kibbeh and it is a middle-eastern dish. The style is quite different from the Greek/Mediterranean style and I don’t have a recipe for it. However, try this Wikipedia page and see if that helps.
David Dunn says
I tried this recipe tonight as I was looking for something different to eat. It was pretty good! I think the next time that I make it, I will put in a few calamata olives since I like them so much.
Thanks for the recipe. Would you mind if I use it on my site?
By the way, do you have a recipe for what I think is called “KIBBE”?
It is ground beef and ground lamb with spices and onions that you serve on crackers.