Sandwich on Fire: Saganaki “Flaming Cheese” Sandwich

Sigh. The best laid plans. You know how that saying goes. Well, this is how that sandwich goes as well.

Actually, let me restate. This sandwich was everything I wanted it to be. These pictures, however, were not.

They are not pretty. They are not mouth-watering. I apologize for their blahness.  I’m still learning. Always learning.

If you can get past the lackluster pictures (you should- don’t be mean), you should make this.

It’s a flaming cheese sandwich.


[Dramatic pause]

Flaming cheese, also known to those folks in Greece as saganaki. Have you ever gotten saganaki at a Greek restaurant?  It’s cool and fun because they bring it to your table, light it on fire and yell OPA! I mean, that makes a statement, for sure.  According to this site, the flaming part actually stemmed from my very own Chicago’s Greek town (in Greece the showmanship part is left to the imagination.  Leave to it Chicago to go for the WOW).

Saganaki actually refers to the two-handled vessel in which such appetizers, like the flaming cheese, are served, sort of like the tagine and paella.  Here, we’re doing cheese.


About the cheese:  you want to pick a firm cheese that will hold up to heat. Of the list that I found, the only two that sounded familiar were Graviera and Halloumi. Halloumi, fantastically enough, is available at Trader Joe’s.  Go Joe!  It’s buttery like mozzarella, salty and is made with sheep’s milk! Good for my tummy.


This appetizer is usually served with bread, but I thought it’d be a fun twist on a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve never really been a fan of grilled cheese (I know, I know) because I have a weird cheese texture issue (I don’t like ‘warm’ cheese because it gets sort of congealed feeling and rubbery. I’m working through it).  However, I figured the crispy-ness that results from this cooking process might mitigate my texture concerns. I was right.


Rather than boring lettuce, I filled my toasted pita with grilled red peppers and onions and dressed it with a Greek yogurt and honey blend, inspired by the suggestion from Helen over at Scrummy Lane that I drizzle the saganaki with honey.

Good advice.



DO NOT pour the alcohol from the bottle to the pan. The alcohol you poured into the pan may ignite and travel up into the bottle of booze you are holding in your hand. Pour the alcohol into a shot glass and then pour it into the pan and ignite.

Traditionally, the booze of choice is Ouzo, a Greek licorice-flavored delight. Licorice and me. NO.  I opted for Cognac.

I used my gluten-free flour mix. It was just fine.

After numerous failed attempts at making gluten-free pita breads, I just bought some.  Maybe some day I’ll get it right.

The resulting sammy was really good, really clean, and non-greasy tasting.  Your turn.

For the cheese:

Recipe from Kalofagos


1 slab of cheese, 4″ x 4″ and 1/2″ inch thick, trimmed of any rind

1 TB, heaping of olive oil

Flour for dredging

1/2 shot glass of Cognac (traditionally, Ouzo)

Squeeze of lemon


1.  Pre-heat a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet  to a medium-high heat. Place your slab of cheese under running tap water then dredge in all-purpose flour. Shake off any excess flour.

2.  Add your olive oil to the skillet. Add a sprinkle of flour into the pan to test if the oil is hot enough. As soon as it sizzles, add your cheese to the skillet and sear for a couple of minutes. Carefully flip the cheese with a spatula and allow to sear for a couple of minutes on the other side.

3.  Turn off your heat source and carefully carry your cheese saganaki to your table and pour the cognac over the cheese and ignite with a lighter. Squeeze the wedge of lemon over the cheese.

For the rest of the sandwich

2 TB Greek yogurt mixed with 2 tsp honey, for saucing

Grilled red peppers

Grilled onions

Pita bread

You know how to assemble a sandwich. Get to it!


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