When I flew from Vietnam to Athens, I found myself deep in the throes of culture shock.
There were no motorcycle taxis, no grannies wearing incredibly complex matching pyjamas, no urban chickens clucking about my feet as I sat to eat.
It was my first time in Greece and understandably it was a bit different to what I came from in Southeast Asia, a stunning panorama of ruins and culture but lacking the imminent chaos of my beloved Saigon.
And a lot of blue.
After a short few days in Athens with my mother and cousins, I headed to Syros, a tiny island a few hours by ferry from the capital. And my biggest problem became what to eat. You see, after months and months of stumbling out of my home to a wealth of bun rieu and pho and banh tam bi, I didn’t know where to start with a new country that favoured bread over rice. So I started with the staple I knew well: Feta.
In my previous post about eating gluten free in Greece I talked about the Feta Wars, but I also wanted to provide a really simple recipe for a dish that was never a disappointment. I’ve since made this at my brother’s place, to oohs and aahs, and replicated it again in Montreal when visiting my mum.
While many of us know baked brie, I certainly never thought of stuffing some Feta in the oven. It was always served on salads, or crumbled in omelettes in Montreal. But baked feta? How little I knew, how much I want to share.
Spicy Baked Feta Recipe (Called Bouyiourdi in Greece)
After trying this dish I immediately emailed friends and family asking if they had tried it. No dice. I reached out to a Greek friend who loved food. Nope, never heard of it. So where did this elusive Feta deliciousness come from? It turns out after some Googling, I found out that it is a mezze appetizer from Thessaloniki, often served during summer feasts. This seaside city in Northern Greece gifted us a delicious dish that has been a hit whenever I’ve made it.
The fun part, too, is just how easy it is to make – and modify – to your liking.
Despina from Culinary Backstreets (she who took me around Athens and stuffed my face with food) also asked around, and noted that the word came from the Ottoman times, where a “bouyourdi” was a tax document provided by officeholders. We were unable to theorize about how the name evolved into a food dish in contemporary Greece. A search of Greek-English dictionaries and history books hasn’t helped. If anyone has more information, I am all ears.
Regardless of mysterious etymology, the recipe is simple and contains two of my favourite things: Feta, and chilli. There are different versions of this recipe around, but I chose the one I ate first, with green pepper (capsicum) and the spice coming from the chillies themselves.
- Earthware dish or small clay pot, with a lid.
- 1 brick of Feta (do not buy crumbled feta — vacuum-sealed Feta bricks or a fresh brick from your local cheese shoppe is ideal)
- 1 small green pepper, sliced
- 1/2 of a Spanish onion, sliced
- 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- Smoked chilli flakes (called “boukovo” — they are on Amazon here)
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- Good quality olive oil
- Bread, crackers, or corn tortilla chips for serving
- Preheat the oven to 215 (approx 425F).
- In the clay pot, arrange the slices of green pepper, onions, and tomatoes to be as flat as possible, overlapping slightly but not too much.
- Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground black pepper to the base vegetable layer.
- Place the brick of feta atop the arrangement of vegetables.
- Drizzle with a liberal amount of olive oil.
- Top the feta with a pinch of dried oregano, and a liberal pinch of chilli flakes – depending on your spice tolerance, of course!
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, covered.
Serve once slightly cool with bread or corn tortilla chips for dipping (the latter for those who are celiac like me).
Alternatively: When I’ve had no clay pot with a lid available, I’ve simply cooked the feta in an aluminium foil ‘box’. Using two sheets of foil, one for the initial placement of the ingredients, as detailed above, and then crimped and sealed at the top. I then use another sheet of foil to wrap the packet to ensure no leaking. Bake on a baking tray as directed above.
Enjoy! And report back on whether it is as much of a hit with your friends and family as it was with mine.
36 thoughts on “Spicy Baked Feta Recipe (Bouyiourdi)”
Fantastic photo, thanks for the recipe. You’re missing olives though…
NONE of the versions I tried had olives. So there, Peter Mack. So there… ;)
Looks great probably a lot different to Vietnam needless to say.
I don’t even know where to start with this, this just sounds incredible! I love Greek food but I always go for the same : spanokopita, spanokopita, spanokopita so it’s about time I broaden my culinary horizons. Already pinned this to make sure I come back to cooking this soon!
This looks so delicious- and it’s such a simple recipe! I will try it ASAP!
Can you suggest a hardware alternative? This looks delicious, but I have no clay pot.
Hi Jackie! I’ve made it as well in a ceramic dish covered in foil, or in a foil package (made into a square) that is placed on a baking sheet. Enjoy!
Do you think it can be done with a Tagine? Stove top or oven?
A tagine might be an interesting option, definitely!
Wow, my mouth is watering looking at that photo! I’ve eaten this once before on the island of Kastos in the Ionian Sea and it is indeed lovely. I’ve never actually made it myself but that’ll definitely change now ;-)
YUM! I’m been thinking of new ways to use Feta, so I’ll definitely be trying this.
Tried to pin this but link was blocked by pinterest as unsafe
Hm, really? I’ve pinned from my site in the past. Will dig around – thank you.
Anything with baked cheese on top is a win in my book (something about that crusty top layer) – but baked feta is even better. How have I not heard of this??! So easy and I can find almost any of it near me. Can’t wait to try it!!
I said the same thing. “YOU CAN BAKE FETA?!” I just never even thought of it. I don’t love baked cheese usually because I find it too rich, but the feta is lighter and it’s far less heavy. Yay!
That looks amazing! I wonder if it work would to bake the feta with something sweet. (I love baking brie and apricot jam together.) Perhaps blueberry jam? Can’t wait to try this out when I have an oven!
Now I know what my block of feta is going to this weekend – looks amazing Jodi!
I will definitely make this recipe and add some spanish olives. I’m in love with your photography skills!
Looks delicious. How have I never considering baking it?! Opened up so many possibilities ;) I wonder if feta would work on bbq skewers like halloumi…
Looks awesome! Im heading to Greece again in 2015 and will seek this out!
Wow that f**king looks amazing. I love me some feta cheese. I got addicted to it while I was in Greece and put it on everything now. I have got to try this one.
Since I lived in Greece in 2012, I have been in love with Athens and all things feta! After this post, I need to head to the supermarket for some feta!
Made it tonight. Great idea and so easy. Went really well with seared pickerel and some sautéed collard greens. Thanks for the suggestion!
Well, fabulous recipe! I must share it with my mom, because she does all the cooking and baking. :) By the way, I love that first photo of blue waters — indeed Aegean blue.
Looks delicious, I have not ever heard of this dish either but I will definitely be making it soon. Looks too good to pass up, thanks for sharing
this looks insanely good. coincidentally, the one thing i told my husband to pick up from the grocery store after work today is…feta!! is it fate?
Thanks so much for the link to the smoked chili flakes. I’m guessing this recipe wouldn’t be as awesome without them, and I would have had no idea where to get them. ‘Can’t wait to give it a try.
Yay! Hope you enjoy the results. :)
I really love Feta Cheese. It’s healthy but you still need to experience the taste of cheese without the guilt. Glad you’re able to solve your problem of finding what to eat.
You can also make this on a grill if you are cooking out. Put it in a ceramic dish and place it on the grill. The flavors of the meat will add to the cheese. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
I love Feta cheese! This recipe looks so delicious, I have to try it. :)
Wow, I didn’t know you can bake feta cheese! So I did follow your recipe and it tastes amazing!!!
Thanks for sharing x
I ate this dish for the first time in Crete recently and it was so gorgeous I wanted to find the recipe as soon as I got home, so thanks for posting. The version I ate had a few green olives thrown in, if you want an extra twist. By the way, the waiter thought the dish was originally Turkish (perhaps because Crete was occupied by the Turks for a long time). Can’t wait to try this for myself!
Heh if you go through my archives you’ll find a big no on the olives from me, but no doubt others feel differently ;) Thank you for the comment and I hope it turns out well!
Hi, I’ve had following version at Crete several times: slices of good quality tomatoes, thin rings of red onions, brick of feta, hearbs (oregano, basilika etc.) and the “thing”; very small cubes of pastrami piled in to an owen pan, preferably clay. Pour extra virgin olive oil – Greek of course – in abundance, bake in owen 200 C about 15-20 min, yummy!! Black olives gives also a nice twist.