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Cheese and Za'atar Pie

Cheese and Za'atar Pie

Cheese-based pastries and pies, in various shapes and forms, are a staple throughout the Middle East. They’re eaten either at breakfast with a cup of tea, or as a snack by school children who stop by their local bakery when school lets out to grab a bite with friends before each goes home for dinner with their families. 

The trick to a good cheese pie simply comes down to good ingredients and a sprinkling of pungent herbs. Za’atar makes any savory pie better, but za’atar makes cheese pies seem absolutely decadent! We like combining ricotta and feta cheese together to combine the briny saltiness of the feta with the almost cream-like taste of a fresh ricotta cheese. We add green olives to add more flavor and bring in another ingredient that often accompanies cheese in the Middle East. Black olives won’t impart the same flavor, but if you prefer black olives, those would work also. 

Similar to a Greek cheese tiropita pie, this cheese puff pastry pie is a regular on the dinner table, oftentimes served as a side during gatherings in Ramadan. Some add nigella seeds, some add mint, but we love using our za’atar. You can make this a whole meal by adding a fresh green side salad dressed with a simple lemon, olive oil and sumac dressing.



Breakfast, Snacks, Lunch




1 Hour




  • Half a regular-sized package of phyllo, thawed

  • 1 tablespoon butter 

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese

  • 3 cups feta cheese

  • Two eggs

  • ½ cups sliced green olives

  • 3 tablespoons zaatar mix


Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


Step 2:

In a bowl, combine the ricotta and feta cheese with the egg, olives, and zaatar. Mix and ensure all ingredients are combined well. Be careful not to break down or overmix the cheese so it doesn’t turn into liquid. 


Step 3:

Melt the butter and start by prepping your pie or tart dish, whatever you have on hand, by brushing the base and sides with the butter. This will prevent your puff pastry from sticking or burning. Start layering your phyllo dough in the dish to create a base and don’t worry about making it even and uniform. Let the ends fall out of the dish. You can either cut excess dough or if long enough, fold it over to create your top layer. A rough appearance shouldn’t worry you, once baked it will look golden and beautiful.


Step 4:

Evenly spread your cheese mixture in the dish and layer the remaining dough to seal your pie. You can glaze the top of your pie with an egg if you want a shiny glaze, but we prefer making our pie without a top glaze so that the top layer curls and crips up. This adds that wonderful texture of flaky dough breaking on your tongue with each bite. Bake in the oven until the top layer turns golden brown, about 35 minutes.

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