Macedonian Pastrmajlija

Macedonian Pastrmajlija

Pastrmajlija is an authentic Macedonian specialty. It resembles a pizza because it is dough that is topped with pieces of pork. The pork pieces are heavenly seasoned with paprika. This gives it its unique taste unlike any other.

Versions of Pastrmajlija vary in different cities across Macedonia and each restaurant offers their creative twist. A Pastrmajlija may have a beaten egg on top . There may also be melted cheese and mushrooms as toppings. One thing is for certain. It is always served with a side hot green finger peppers for a spicy kick.

This Macedonian Pastrmajlija recipe requires a pizza stone.

This Macedonian Pastrmajlija recipe requires a pizza stone because it makes the dough so much softer and your pastrmajlija will always taste perfect. You can find a pizza stone here. I also highly suggest a pizza peel to easily transfer your pastrmajlija onto a hot pizza stone. Refer to my tips on using a pizza stone for the Macedonian Pastrmajlija on the bottom of this post.

How to make Macedonian Pastrmajlija.

There are two parts to making a Macedonian pastrmajlija. One is preparing the pork and the second is making the dough.

The Pork
  1. Begin with preparing the pork. The pork loin is cut into small cubes. The cubes should be small because they cook raw on top of raw dough. Both of the pork and dough have to bake together. If the pork pieces are too big, chances are the dough will bake faster than the pork. This results in raw pork and burnt dough. The pork is seasoned with paprika and salt and submerged in oil. This gives the pork it its unique smokey flavor.

The Dough

  1. The dough requires only a few simple ingredients. First start with activating the yeast in lukewarm water and sugar. Then add the yeast mixture to all purpose flour and salt along with 3 tablespoons of oil.
    • The dough should be kneaded until the ingredients come together and a soft ball of dough forms. The should should not stick to your fingers or your working surface. If it does, add some more flour, only one tablespoon at a time. Work in the flour completely before adding any more flour. Set the dough to the side, covered with a towel until it rises about double its size.
    • Once doubled in size, deflate the dough, knead it again, and let it rise a second time. This time only about 20 minutes.
    • Divide the dough into 4 equal sections, form into balls and set them aside to rest for about 10 minutes, covered. I have found that this last rise results in softer dough. Skipping this will result in a crunchier crust. It all comes down to preference.
    • Stretch each ball of down in a long oval that will fit your pizza stone or baking sheet. I bake two at a time on a round pizza stone.

To summarize making the dough:

  1. Knead and let rise for 45 minutes or close to double in size.
  2. Knead dough a second time and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Divide into 3 equal sections and let them rest 10 minutes.

Baking tips when using a pizza stone.

  1. The pizza stone should be very hot prior to transferring pastrmajlija on it. Check the instructions for your pizza stone and use it according to instructions. Most require to sit in a oven heated to 500F for 30 minutes. If that’s the case, heat it to 500F, then decrease temperature to 450F when baking the pastrmajlija.
  2. Us a pizza peel to transfer each Pastrmajlija onto the pizza stone. Sprinkle corn meal or flour over pizza peel then place pastrmajlija dough on it. This will help the pastrmajlija slide off easier onto the hot pizza stone.

Serving Macedonian Pastrmajlija.

Just when you think you have had enough peppers, thing again. The pork in this specialty is heavily seasoned with paprika. After it is baked, the pastrmajlija is topped with more crushed black pepper. Not only that, but it almost always comes with a side of spicy pickled green finger peppers of some sort.

Do I have to use lard in this recipe?

In short, no! Pastrmajlija is made with lard. The lard is placed over the top of the pork. As the pastrmajlija bakes, the lard melts. This makes the dough softer and gives a stronger pork flavor. I have found that this creates a greasier and heavier Pastrmajlija. I don’t use lard. Instead, I use a pastry brush to brush pork drippings over the crust after the pastrmajlija bakes.

Macedonian Pastrmajlija Recipe

Macedonian pastrmajlija is kind of like pizza. It's a Macedonian specialty made of dough topped with pork seasoned in paprika.
Course dinner
Cuisine Macedonian
Keyword macedonian pastrmajlija, Macedonian recipes, pastrmajlija, pastrmajlija recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4 Pastrmajlijas

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pork loin cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp sunflower or canola oil

The Dough

  • 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour more if needed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • cup luke warm water
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 package yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Toppings

  • 2 tbsp red peper flakes
  • pickled hot chili peppers

Instructions

  • Slice the pork loin into ¼" cubes. Place in a large bowl. Sprinkle paprika and salt and mix. Pour oil over the seasoned pork and let marinade for at least one hour or overnight.
  • To prepare the dough, start with activating the yeast. In lukewarm water, add one teaspoon of sugar and mix to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast over the water and set aside for about 10 minutes until the mixture develops foam.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt. Whisk to incorporate evenly. In the center of the dry ingredients, add yeast mixture and oil. Begin kneading the dough with your hands until it comes together. The dough should be soft without sticking to your fingers.
  • Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside in a warm area in your home so that they dough can rise. Once the dough is doubled in size, deflate the dough. Transfer the dough onto a counter. Knead the dough a second time. Place the dough in the same bowl and let it rest a second time for 20 minutes.
  • Place pizza stone in oven and heat oven to 500°F. Once oven comes to temperature, leave pizza stone in oven for 30 minutes so that it becomes very hot. After 30 minutes, decrease oven temperature to 450°F.
  • While pizza stone heats, prepare each pastrmajlija. To do so, divide dough into 4 equal sections. Form each section into a ball and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  • Using your hands, shape each section into a long oval. See pictures above. Place one pastrmajlija on a pizza peel at a time. Dust pizza peel with flour or corn meal to prevent pastrmajlija from sticking. When the dough is on your pizza peel, place ¼ of the seasoned pork on top of the the pastrmajlija. Carefully transfer the pastrmajlija onto your pizza oven. Repeat this for remaining of your pastrmajlijas. You should be able to fit 2 at a time on the pizza stone depending on the size of your pizza stone.
  • Bake pastrmajlijas for about 12-15 minutes or until the pork pieces are fully cooked through and the edges of the pastrmajlija are golden brown. Remove from oven by removing one Pastrmajlija at a time. Do not touch hot pizza stone.
  • Immediately after you remove each pastrmajlija from the oven, using a pastry brush, spread the oil from the pork over the edges ove the whole pastrmajlija. This will give it its unique flavor and softon the dough.
  • Sprinkle top of each pastrmajlija with crushed red pepper and serve with pickled hot chili peppers

Notes

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it on Instagram.

       Make sure to tag #inaeatsin or mention @InaEatsIn


Homemade Pork Gyros

These Homemade Pork Gyros are the closest that you will get to authentic gyros. Perfectly seasoned and cooked pork wrapped in soft pita bread is just the start. The real game changers in the gyro are the tzatziki sauce and french fries.

Yes, when you order a gyro in Greece, most restaurants will serve their gyro with french fries inside of the pita and I think it’s the best thing ever. Along with the French fries, the other staple ingredients are sliced tomatoes and onions. However, you can customize your gyro as you would like.

The most common misconception is that gyros are made of a mixture of beef and lamb. Maybe that depends on the region in Greece, however, I have only had pork gyros in Greece and that is what inspired this recipe.

What ingredients are needed for Homemade Pork Gyros?

Below are ingredients that are most commonly used in traditional Greek gyros so I used them in this recipe. However, don’t be afraid to play around with toppings. There is no right or wrong and it always comes down to personal preference. To me, a gyro is not a gyro without the tzatziki and I believe that’s the most important ingredient you can after after the pork.

  • Pork (pork loin or pork shoulder)
  • Marinade-sunflower oil (or any flavorless oil such as vegetable or canola) garlic, paprika, oregano, salt, black pepper
  • Pita bread
  • Tzatziki-I have a great recipe here or you can use store bought
  • French fries-Homemade or use pre-cut frozen
  • Freshly sliced tomatoes and onions.

What kind of meat is used in these Homemade Pork Gyros?

All of the gyros I have tried in different cities in Greece were made of only pork. That is the reason I use pork when I make homemade gyros. Traditionally, pork pieces are seasoned and then layered on a rotisserie. The pork cooks on the rotisserie and just before it goes in the gyro, the pork meat is shaved off of the rotisserie. Since it is shaved, the pork meat is very thin.

Preparing the pork.

Since pork is shaved for a traditional gyro, I make the gyro as close to authentic as possible and the meat has a lot to do with that. To be able to slice the pork thinly, I find it helpful if the meat is slightly frozen. When the meat is firm, you can get thiner slices much easier.

If your pork is frozen, slice it before defrosting. If it is not frozen, place it in the freezer for about 1-2 hours or until it is relatively firm.

Once it is sliced, place the pork in marinade one hour prior to cooking or make it one day ahead and leave it in the marinade and refrigerated overnight.

Making the Homemade Gyro.

  1. Make the tzatziki if you are not using store bought. I have a great tzatziki recipe here, or you can purchase it already made. If you are making the tzatziki, I recommend making it first so it has time to cool in the refrigerator or you can make it one day ahead. The recipe will be more than you need for 4 gyros, however it makes a great dipping sauce for almost any vegetable.
  2. Prepare the pork. Slice it thin, sprinkle seasonings, garlic, and oil over it. Mix and let it marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight if making ahead.
  3. Make the french fires. I like to make them from scratch using butter potatoes but you can also make them using pre cut french fries. To get closest to an authentic gyro, I fry my french fries. However, you can use an air fryer as well as an oven to bake them.
  4. Cook the meat. Since I recommend cutting the pork as thin as possible, it will cook relatively quickly which is why I recommend making the French fries before the meat. That way your French fries are still warm when you assemble the homemade pork gyros.
  5. Lightly toast pita. This is optional but it does make a difference. When warm, the pita is easier to fold without it cracking in half. I like to toast the pita in the same pan that I used to cook the pork in. Place pita in pan, about 30 seconds on each side, on low heat.
  6. Assemble the gyros. First add the tzatziki, followed by cooked pork, tomatoes, onions, and french fries.

Homemade Pork Gyros

These delicous Homemade Prok Gyros are as close as you will get to authentic without being on a Greek island. Inspired but gyros tasted in Greece, these are made to perfection with pork only, tzatziki, and french fries just like those served in Greece
Course dinner
Cuisine Greek
Keyword greek gyro, gyro, homemade pork gyro, pork gyro
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 gyros

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs pork loin sliced thin
  • 3 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ lb potatoes about 4
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • 4 pitas
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • ½ yellow onion
  • ¼ cup tzatziki

Instructions

  • If you are going to make my homemade tzatziki recipe, start by doing that first. If using store bought, procees to preparing the pork.
  • Slice pork loin as thin as possible. The easiest way to do this is when the pork is slightly forzen so that it is firm.
  • Place sliced pork in a shallow bowl and sprinkle oregano, paprika, salt, and ground black pepper. Grate in 2 garlic cloves. Lastly, pour oil over the seasoned pork and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinade in the refrigerator for at least one hour prior to cooking or overnight.
  • About 30 minutes before cooking the pork, prepare the french fries. You can use a small bag of pre cut french fries or make them home made. For this recipe, I used 4 butter potatoes (peeled, cut, and deep fried in canola oil).
  • Once fries are ready, set them aside. Take the pork out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before cooking. Heat a large skillet on high heat, once hot, decrease to medium heat and add sliced pork in a single layer. Cook about 5-6 minutes or until pork is fully cooked through. If you slices are thicker, cooking time may be longer. Remove pork from heat.
  • Decrease heat to low and lighty toast each pita bread in the same pan used to cook pork in, about 30 seconds on each side. This is optional but pita will fold better when warm.
  • To asseble, spread tzatziki on each pita bread, add pork, tomatoes, onions, and fries. Evenly distribute pork and french fries among 4 pitas. Tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki can be added per preference, as much or as little as you would like.

Notes

  1. For a fresh and soft tasting pita bread, toast it on hot skilled used to cook the pork in for about 30 seconds on each side on low heat.
  2. If you are using my tzatziki recipe, it will make more than is needed for 4 gyros. You can make half of the batch or save the rest to use as a dipping sauce for your favorite vegetables. 
  3. Frozen pork is easier to slice into thin slices. I recommend freezing pork slightly prior to slicing to get a thin slice. If already frozen, slice prior to thawing.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it on Instagram.

       Make sure to tag #inaeatsin or mention @InaEatsIn

Homemade Pork Gyros


Tuna Chickpea Pasta Salad

This tuna chickpea pasta salad is packed with protein, fresh veggies, and loads of flavor. It makes for a perfect lower carb, high protein lunch idea that you can make ahead and enjoy on the go.

When I first had the idea to make this, I had regular pasta salad in mind. I had chickpea pasta on hand so I decided to test it out and it turned out so tasty. It contains a lot of protein, healthy fats, and delicious crunch from fresh vegetables. Lastly, a creamy lime dressing completes this pasta salad and adds incredible flavor.

How to make Tuna Chickpea Pasta Salad.

This dish is one of the easiest pasta salads you can make. The steps in making this pasta salad are:

  • cooking chickpea pasta per package instructions
  • washing and chopping a few vegetables
  • making easy creamy lime dressing
  • mixing all ingredients together

This pasta salad is a cold salad. As a result, make sure your chickpea pasta has cooled completely before mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients. You can speed up this process by running it under cold water after the chickpea pasta has cooked. Not allowing the chickpea pasta to cool will result the avocado mayonnaise to melt, leaving you with a soggy instead of a creamy pasta salad.

After cooking the chickpea pasta, all there is left to do is mix all the ingredients together. I found that refrigerating this pasta salad for at least 1 hour before serving resulted in the best flavor.

Storing your pasta salad.

Place pasta salad in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Do not freeze or leave at room temperature.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes! You can double, triple, or quadruple this recipe. Don’t make more than can be eaten in 2 days because this pasta salad can’t be frozen.

Tuna Chickpea Pasta Salad

Tuna Chickpea Pasta Salad is the perfect low carb, high protein meal that is both, satisfying and full of flavorful.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword tuna chickpea pasta salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna packed in water
  • 2 cups cooked chick pea pasta (1 cup dry) cooked and cooled
  • 1 english cucumber chopped
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoe halves
  • ½ medium red onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 (2.25oz) cup sliced black olives

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp avocado mayonnaise
  • 1 whole lime juiced
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp dill
  • ½ tsp parsley flakes

Instructions

  • Cook chickpea pasta per package instructions.
  • While the pasta cooks, prepare all vegetables and avocado by washing and chopping. Set aside.
  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl, juice 1 lime, add tablespoon of avocado mayonnaise, salt, pepper, dill, parsley, and garlic powder. Mix and set aside.
  • Once the chick pea pasta has cooked completely, drain and rinse under cold water until the chickpea pasta is cooled completely.
  • In a large bowl, add chickpea pasta, tuna, vegetables, avocado, and black olives and mix together. Add the dressing and mix again. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Spaghetti in Eggplant Sauce

Spaghetti in Eggplant Sauce is a great meatless dish any day because it is tasty, easy, and loaded with fiber and healthy fats. The eggplant and tomato sauce go incredible well together but I also add olives and chopped green onions which really amplify its flavors.

When making this Spaghetti in eggplant sauce dish, I had Mediterranean in mind. My grandma always made roasted eggplant and tomato sauce with lots of garlic and she dipped bread in this extremely flavorful sauce, however I wanted something that would make it pop. That’s why I added olives and green onions because these two ingredients made every bite special. Also, instead eating this with bread (which would be so GOOD) I decided to have it with whole grain spaghetti and I have zero regrets doing so.

How to make Spaghetti with Eggplant Sauce:

  1. Saute the eggplant for about 4 minutes until softened. Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil so make sure the oil is hot before adding in the eggplant. I also suggest using a non stick pan so that the eggplant doesn’t stick and you won’t be required to keep adding more oil. I like to use light olive oil for this dish because it add flavor without burning as extra virgin olive oil would.
  2. Add in minced garlic and mixing with a wooden spoon, cook for 1 more minute. At this point, if you need to add more oil, you can do so but just enough so that the minced garlic doesn’t stick to your pan.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes and seasonings. You can use fresh or dried herbs. I always have the required herbs dried on hand so I use dried more frequently.
  4. Let the sauce simmer. Cover the eggplant sauce halfway and let it simmer while the spaghetti cooks, approximately 10-12 minutes.
  5. Add spaghetti to the eggplant sauce. Mix the spaghetti in eggplant sauce so that the spaghetti is fully coated with the delicious sauce.
  6. Top with Greek black olives and fresh green onions. This is my favorite part! These two ingredients make this Spaghetti with Eggplant Sauce dish so special. You can also use black olives but my favorite olives are Greek olives with the bone in. I cut around the bone and add sliced pieces of the olives in this dish.
  7. Optional: top with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Can you substitute spaghetti?

Yes. You can make your favorite kind of pasta with this Eggplant Sauce.

Spaghetti in Eggplant Sauce

This Spaghetti in Eggplant Sauce recipe is wonderful Mediterranean Dish loaded with fiber and even more flavor. It comes together in half an hour, making it perfect for any day of the week.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword eggplant sauce, mediterranean meal
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Cost $6-$10

Ingredients

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup pitted Greek olives sliced
  • 2 stems green onions
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese optional

Instructions

  • Wash and dice one whole eggplant into 1/2" thick cubes and set aside. Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and set aside as well.
  • Fill a large pot with water and place over medium heat. This will give the water for the spaghetti time to come to a boil while you are making the sauce.
  • In a large shallow saucepan, heat light olive oil on medium heat. Add in the diced eggplant and cook for about 4 minutes or until the eggplant is soft.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add oil as needed.
  • Using a fork, slightly mash the cooked eggplant then add the crushed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir until combined bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, decrease the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer covered halfway until the spaghetti cooks, about 10 minutes.
  • Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook until al dente according to package instructions.
  • Once the spaghetti is cooked, remove from heat. Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce. Remove sauce from heat and mix together until spaghetti is fully covered with the eggplant sauce.
  • Top spaghetti with sliced Greek olives and chopped green onions.
  • For optional garnish, add grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil.
  • Serve while still warm.


White Bean Stew with Sun Dried Tomatoes

A statement Mediterranean dish that is authentic, hearty, and loaded with layers of flavor. This White Bean Stew with Sun Dried Tomatoes is made with white beans, seasoned with staple Mediterranean additions, and intensified with sun-dried tomatoes that make this dish all that it is!

All about the ingredients:

  • White Beans: Cannellini beans are the largest of the white beans and are the shape of kidney beans and that is why they are sometimes called white kidney beans. They hold their shape very well and have a tender and meaty inside, making them perfect for stews and soups because they will not fall apart if properly cooked. To prepare the cannelini beans for this White Bean Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, simply soak the beans overnight in a pot of water. For best results, the beans should soak for at least 6 hours. A great substitute for cannellini beans are Great Northern beans.
  • Onions and garlic are a great addition to this stew that contribute to its magnificent flavor. The chopped yellow onions and minced garlic cloves are added to the beans while they simmer giving them plenty of flavor so you don’t even have to use vegetable stock that is often very high in sodium.
  • Herbs and seasonings: Oregano, parsley flakes, paprika, bay leaves, turmeric, salt, and pepper are all that you need to reach the perfect flavor. These are all very simple ingredients that are very commonly used in the Mediterranean region. 
  • Sun dried tomatoes: These are tomatoes that have been dried out and although not moist, they still preserve their sweet flavor with a little bit of a tang. Sun dried tomatoes are usually sold in a jar, are dunked in oil and sometimes, seasonings. This recipe calls or 1/2 of a cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes since they are usually sold whole or halves. To get smaller pieces that are easier to eat in this White Bean Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, remove them from their container and using a knife, slice them into small pieces.
  • Olive oil and all purpose flour: The olive oil gives the stew a smooth texture an adds flavor while the all purpose flour acts as a thickening agent. These ingredients are used to make a roux that is then added to the White Bean Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes to make it a slightly thicker consistency.

How to make White Bean Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes:

  1. Soak beans overnight.
  2. Simmer beans with chopped onion, bay leaves, minced garlic, parsley flakes, and oregano.
  3. Sauté the chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil.
  4. Add all purpose flour, paprika, and turmeric to the olive oil and sun dried tomatoes. Whisk.
  5. Pour sun-dried tomato mixture to the white beans.
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes then serve!

Can you use canned beans?

The answer is yet! I avoid using canned beans mostly to avoid the sodium content however it would save you some time. In place of 1 1/2 cups of dry, uncooked beans, use 2 cans of beans. Canned beans do not have to be soaked in water. Simply drain and rinse the beans and simmer then for 10 minutes in water, then 15 more minutes after the sun-dried tomato roux mixture is added.

How to make the thickening Roux:

Roux is a thickening agent made of fat and flour that gives stews and soups a thicker, smoother consistency. Roux is made using equal part fat and flour or cornstarch. The roux for this recipe is not as thick and is cooked in the olive oil that you used to sauté the sun-dried tomatoes. 

  1. Start by sautéing the sun-dried tomatoes for about 4-5 minutes. 
  2. Next whisk in the flour, paprika, and turmeric. Whisk quickly for about 30 seconds to 1 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture. Although it will not be as thick as traditional roux, it will become slightly thick and should be smooth.
  3. Finally, add the roux to the simmering beans and stir to incorporate it with the rest of the beans

A great addition to the Mediterranean Diet:

The Mediterranean Diet is a diet that consists of daily consumption of plant based, whole foods including fruits, vegetable, whole grains, and healthy fats. It also encourages weekly consumption of poultry, eggs, and daily while greatly limiting red meats, sugar, and other processed foods. This diet received great recognition in the 1960’s when it was noticed that the population in the Mediterranean region had much lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. This encouraged a lot of research on the lifestyle choices in people living near the Mediterranean region. For a healthier version of this White Bean Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe, you can omit the all purpose flour. This will leave you with a soupy consistency that will still be packed with incredible flavors. *Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice so be sure to speak to your doctor before beginning a new diet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry white beans (Cannelini or Great Northern)
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon back pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, add beans and cover with water. Let them soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  2. Drain beans and to the soaked beans, add 5 1/2 cups of water. To the beans, add chopped onions, minced garlic, bay leaves, parsley flakes, and oregano. On medium heat, bring beans to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Add more water if needed.
  3. In a non stick skillet on medium low heat, heat olive oil and add chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté for about 4 minutes.
  4. To the sautéd sun-dried tomatoes, add flour, turmeric and paprika. Whisk quickly for 30 seconds until the oil thickens, being careful not to burn. Then add mixture to the simmering beans. Add salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Let the stew simmer on low heat for 10 more minutes, add more water if needed. The consistency should be just slightly thicker than a soup.
  6. Remove from heat and serve warm.


Oven Baked Cheese Dip (Sirenje vo Furna)

If you’re here then I know you love cheese and if you love cheese, melted cheese, to be specific, you have come to the right place. This authentic, Baked Cheese Dip (Sirenje vo Furna) will be your next go-to appetizer for any occasion because it’s so easy, cheesy, and not your typical cheese dip!

This authentic recipe for the Macedonian Baked Cheese Dip or “Sirenje vo Furna” in Macedonian, is made with only 5 ingredients and unlike anything that you have ever tasted before. This Macedonian Baked Cheese Dip is very popular in many cities in Macedonia and you can find it at almost any restaurant. Baked Cheese Dip or Sirenje vo Furna, comes plain with just cheese, however it is not uncommon to have additions such as mushrooms and various types of meat, typically smoked for extra flavor, in the dip.

An authentic Macedonian Baked Cheese Dip is traditionally served in a clay dish. The bottom of the clay dish is brushed with ketchup, or a tomato sauce, followed by a creamy- feta cheese bottom, topped with super stretchy yellow Bulgarian cheese and seasoned with oregano and sesame seeds. The dip is served with delicious sesame seed bread sticks but you can use anything for dipping!

Ingredients used Authentic Macedonian Baked Cheese Dip (Sirenje vo Furna):

  • Ketchup. You really only need about one tablespoon for this just to coat the bottom of a 6″ clay dish but even though it’s only a small bit, it make a great difference so be sure not to skip it.
  • Domty Feta Cheese Plus. Don’t confuse this with cream cheese. Spreadable feta cheese is saltier and has a stronger flavor. When baked, this spreadable feta cheese is ultra smooth and creamy. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find so I included some wonderful substitutes below.
    • Substitutes: Feta Cheese made from sheep’s milk is the best and closest alternative to Domty-Feta Cheese Pluse and is more common and easier to find. The rule of thumb here is to look for any feta with a high fat content, which will result in creamy texture when melted. Your best bet should be feta made from sheep’s milk. Another substitute is just to use feta cheese crumbs. While this will not give the creamiest texture, it will still taste incredible and very similar to the Authentic Macedonian Baked Cheese Dip.
  • Bulgarian cheese. Bulgarian cheese is usually made from either cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or a combination of both. This hard, yellow cheese melts extremely well is a perfect addition to pasta, pizzas, and even paninis. I have a great recipe for Chicken Cutlets with Bulgarian Cheese so be sure to check out my website for that!
    • Substitutes: I have yet to find a cheese that tastes very similar, however, I would say that the closest substitutes would be either provolone cheese or sharp, white cheddar. To get the cheese to melt better, buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself.
  • Oregano and Sesame Seeds. The two most common toppings in many delicious foods in Macedonian restaurants.

How to make Baked Cheese Dip (Sirenje vo Furna):

  1. Lightly coat the bottom of the clay pot or baking dish with ketchup. You need very little – you should still be able to see the bottom of the dish through the ketchup.
  2. Add in the feta cheese layer, then the shredded Bulgarian cheese.
  3. Top with sesame seeds and oregano.
  4. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil and 5 minutes uncovered.

Where to find ingredients:

Both of the cheeses mentioned above can be found in international stores. Your best bet is to search” international food market near me” on Google and before heading over, I suggest calling and asking for:

  • Bulgarian Cheese
  • Domty – Feta Cheese Plus OR Feta cheese from sheep’s milk

If you’re from the Rochester, NY area- International Food Market & Cafe on Jefferson Road carries both of the cheeses so you can have yourself an Authentic Baked Cheese Dip (Sirenje vo Furna).

Can I double the recipe?

Yes- you can double, triple, or even quadruple this recipe. If you make this recipe to fit a different sized baking dish, make sure you use equal parts feta cheese to Bulgarian cheese.

Tips for making it taste like Authentic Baked Cheese Dip (Sirenje vo Furna):

  • If you can’t find Domty Feta Cheese Plus in a store near you, use Feta cheese made from Sheep’s milk-higher fat will make a creamier consistency and sharper flavor makes it authentic.
  • Bake the cheese dip in a clay pot. Trust me, it bakes the cheese really well but keep in mind that you can also use any oven safe dish.
  • Don’t skip the ketchup, oregano, and sesame seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 7oz (200g) Domty – Feta Cheese Plus
  • 7oz (200g) Bulgarian cheese
  • 1 Tbs ketchup
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the bottom of a 6in round clay dish or any oven-safe dish with ketchup.
  3. Add the Feta cheese evenly on the bottom of the dish and top the feta cheese with shredded Bulgarian cheese.
  4. Sprinkle oregano and sesame seeds over the top of the cheese.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake covered for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese bubbles.