This is the first in a series of vegetarian Bulgarian recipes from Krista Gelev that we’re featuring. Look out for new recipes every month!
I commence this culinary series with the recipe I personally know best, the simple and delectable cheese and filo dough concoction that has been my contribution to all potlucks from kindergarten to college. Delicately unfolding the feathery filo, drizzling melted butter over the pan, finally tucking the feta and yogurt mixture into neat rolls—these actions have become near-ritual for me, sweeping me into nostalgic reverie. And banitza is beloved by virtually all who encounter it. It can be filled with all manner of stuffings sweet and savory, from spinach and leek to pumpkin and apple, but this recipe is its purest form.
1 tube frozen filo dough (left out to defrost for an hour or so prior)
1 lb feta cheese
½ cup yogurt
1 stick butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt ¼ of the butter to grease a 8×10’’ pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs with yogurt. Crumble in small pieces of the block of cheese, stirring as you proceed. The resulting mixture should be pale yellow, with thick lumps. In the meantime, melt the rest of the butter.
Carefully remove a few individual sheets of filo and place them as a flat initial layer onto the greased pan. Drizzle a tablespoon of melted butter atop the filo, and then pour a slightly more generous amount of egg-yogurt mixture on top of that. Now, starting at the bottom of the pan, roll the dough in on itself, creating a fat roll at the top of the pan. Neatness doesn’t matter: in Bulgarian, the expression ‘to make banitza of something’ means to make a total mess.
Drizzle some more butter on the pan. Take another couple of filo sheets and place on the remaining surface area of the pan. Fill and roll, as previously. Repeat until the pan is filled entirely with rolls. Drizzle any remaining butter over the rolls.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Pairs excellently with honey and sugar, or alternatively plain yogurt and tomato.
-Krista Gelev, class of 2018