Kopanisti is the name of a cheese that is made only in the Cyclades islands of Greece. It has a unique peppery flavor and is often served as a spread with pitas and ouzo. Although we can't get authentic kopanisti cheese here in America, this spread, which can be found in many Greek restaurants, makes a great alternative. I first had this dish in 2005 before a trip to Greece; some friends took me out to this great little Greek restaurant in preparation for my trip and this was one of the many superb appetizers that we had (of course, at the time, I didn't know that kopanisti was the specialty of the exact region of Greece that I would be visiting otherwise I would have certainly bought some to take home with me!) In this recipe, feta cheese is spiked with the intense flavors of garlic, fresh mint, red pepper flakes and pickled Italian peperoncini. A garnish of red grapes, mint and slivered almonds brings the dish to new heights. Be sure to use a good feta cheese and olive oil for best results. Serve with pitas and ouzo or retsina for a truly delicious Greek treat.
Kopanisti with Pitas
Marinated Octopus Salad
Tomato, Cucumber and Kalamata Olive Salad
Ouzo, Retsina or Greek White Wine


for the kopanisti...
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more as needed)
6 italian peperoncini, chopped (plus more as needed)

for garnish...
red grapes, halved
sliced almonds
chopped fresh mint
extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and add more red pepper flakes or peperoncini if you want it spicier. Transfer to a serving bowl (or cover tightly with plastic wrap and store overnight in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before serving.) Garnish the bowl with the grapes, almonds, chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil.

Makes 1-1/2 cups



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Be sure to use the best feta cheese and olive oil that you can find for this recipe because it will really make a difference. I like to use a creamy Greek or French feta. Avoid feta cheeses that have too harsh of a salty taste since the peperoncini will add more salt to the dish

I think this spread actually tastes better after being allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature; then add the garnishes and serve.

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