The first time I prepared a dish for a large crowd, I had the jitters. The Taste of Greece, a fun, food fundraiser for our Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, annually draws nearly 500 attendees who are ready and willing to sample common Greek fare, all made by home cooks. My dad, an experimental cook who owns every Greek cookbook imaginable—twice over—always shows up with unusual dishes that people had never tried. When I was 16 and only knew how to pour the perfect amount of milk in my cereal and how to butter toast, my dad tasked me to make something simple but different—PASTOURMA ROLLUPS—that he’d found in one of his cookbooks. They’ve been a hit at Taste of Greece ever since, but my dad also loans out all of his cookbooks, so I’m not sure who to thank. Diane Kochilas? Aglaia Kremezi? Vefa Alexiadou? Susanna Hoffman? Cat Cora? Michael Psilakis? Thank you all, and every other wonderful Greek cookbook author, for opening my eyes, to this and all things Greek cuisine.
Pastourma is a cured meat made from different cuts of beef, lamb or goat (in some cultures it’s made from camel or water buffalo meat) and is seasoned with the distinctive fenugreek spice. Basically unknown in western culture, fenugreek has served for centuries as a healing plant and a spice in Middle East and Far East countries. About the only way to find pastourma is by shopping in Greek, Armenian or Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t manage to find pastourma, then prosciutto or bresaola are the next best options for this recipe. The rollups call for just three ingredients—a slice of kasseri (or your favorite mild Greek cheese) a sliver of red bell pepper (we’ve even slipped in onion slices at times), all rolled up inside a thin slice of pastourma. The trio makes for a small bite with a little crunch and loads of flavor.
Pastourma Rollups are a perfect grab-and-go appetizer.
- 1 pound pastourma, thinly sliced into approximately 2-inch wide strips*
- 2 red bell peppers, seeds removed and cut into ¼" wide strips, about 2-inches long
- 1 pound kasseri cheese, cut to same size as peppers
- At one edge of a pastourma slice, top with one slice of a bell pepper and kasseri cheese. Roll up tightly.
- Repeat until all the pastourma is gone. Secure with a toothpick if needed, or leave plain.
- Arrange on a plate so they’re easy to grab.