Feta Walnut Date Cigars

recipe image

If these whimsical hors d’oeuvres taste somewhat familiar to you it’s because they happen to be a fancified take on bourek, Turkish feta-stuffed phyllo rolls. Here, those familiar flavors not only echo ingredients of Turkish cuisine, but are also reminiscent of walnut-date bread with cream cheese: a delicious American classic. For more seasonal recipes, download the free Gourmet Live app and stay tuned to the Gourmet Live blog for the latest updates.


Makes 32 hors d’oeuvres

6 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces

6 ounces crumbled feta (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons; patted dry if wet)

2/3 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup chopped pitted dates

1 (1 pound) package phyllo dough (roughly 17- by 12-inch sheets), thawed if frozen

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter (preferably European-style), melted and cooled slightly

  1. Step 1

    Pulse cream cheese, feta, walnuts, and dates together in a food processor, stopping occasionally to scrape down side of bowl, until nuts are finely chopped and mixture is combined well. Quick-chill filling by freezing until cold (to make it easier to handle), 15 to 20 minutes in freezer.

    Step 2

    Stack 8 sheets of phyllo and cut stack crosswise into 4 strips (each about 12-by 4-inches), reserving remaining phyllo for another use.

    Step 3

    Stack phyllo strips, then place stack between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap (to keep phyllo from drying out) and cover with a kitchen towel (to help keep the paper or plastic wrap in place).

    Step 4

    Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle.

    Step 5

    Place 1 sheet of phyllo with a short end nearest you on a work surface (keep remaining sheets covered) and brush with butter.

    Step 6

    Roll a scant tablespoon of filling between your hands into a 3-inch-long log and place log in center of phyllo sheet, parallel to short end. Fold phyllo in half, enclosing log, and brush with butter.

    Step 7

    Roll a scant tablespoon of filling between your hands into a 3-inch-long log and place log in center of phyllo sheet, parallel to short end. Fold phyllo in half, enclosing log, and brush with butter.

    Step 8

    Starting at log end, roll up pastry to resemble a cigar. Transfer, seam side down, to a lightly buttered baking sheet.

    Step 9

    Make more rolls, leaving 1/2-inch of space between cigars on baking sheet. Bake until phyllo is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cooks’ notes:

•Filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

•Unbaked cigars keep frozen for up to 1 week. To freeze, put cigars on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour, then transfer to a sealable plastic bag. When ready to bake, do not thaw. Place frozen cigars on a baking sheet and place directly in oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

•If using frozen phyllo, be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions for thawing it; if you are in a hurry and try to thaw it too quickly, you’ll likely end up with a frustrating mass of stuck-together sheets or a pile of shreds.

•Fresh phyllo that’s never been frozen is a delight to work with; you might find it labeled ‘strudel dough’. Look for it in international, Greek, Middle Eastern, or Eastern European markets.

How would you rate Feta Walnut Date Cigars?

  • Although delicious, they were very heavy and greasy. Perhaps something went wrong with my preparation, but I think I’ll leave these off the cocktail party menu next time.

  • I changed it up just a bit and used goat cheese instead of feta. I also added a pinch of orange zest and loved how it freshened the flavors.

  • The missing flavor is carmelized onions! I needed an app for a dinner we were invited to that evening and didn’t have time or desire to go to the store for 2 ingredients so I subbed dried cranberries for the dates and goat cheese for cream cheese–which I would have done anyway. Added orange zest like others a little salt and pepper too. Chopping each ingredient before adding the next (started w cranberries) eliminated the ball problem. The mixture had a consistentcy that was condusive to piping it w a bag (no tip) creating consistent logs. I did this and froze the piped logs; proceeded w the recipe. The onions and goat cheese truely made the difference!
    This recipe is very versatile–next time its sun-dried tomatoes black olives –there are SO many options. If one was really pressed for time those fillo cups fill in (pun intended) a pinch! I hope reviewers who were going to give up on this recipe another chance w onions and or other ingredients!

  • Well…. IDK, these were alright. I added all the extras reviewers mentioned, cranberries,lots of orange zest. I made the fillers a day ahead and froze them. Makin them was fun, time consuming but not difficuI put smaller batches in my mini prep and yeah it still balls up also watch out you don’t chop the nuts too much. They make a nice crunch.lt. I froze them all. In my convection oven they only needed 11 minutes to cook, looked very lovely golden brown and none spilled out. It’s just that there is no real amazing wow factor here. I doubt I’d make again even with the additions.

  • The cheese shop didn’t have a strong feta and recommended a ricotta salata instead, and it was an excellent substitution! Otherwise made the recipe as written and froze them, which worked out well. Big hit with the family on Christmas Eve. And, they were fun to make!

  • Found these a little bland so added some ginger paste. This gave them a fresh flavour. Agree with the earlier reviewer who said it was difficult food to mix in processer so I added a little cream….Big mistake, won’t do that again.

  • I can suggest a classic Turkish food which is like “Feta Walnut Date Cigar”, but is completely different what you have seen here. Potato Patty is one of the most widespread meals in Turkey. Turkish cooks and housewives prefer to make its all variations for breakfasts and for tea hours. You can reach details through:

  • Time it took me – 2 hours start to
    I carefully followed the advice on
    working with the phyllo – worked
    very well.
    I took the reviewers advice to add
    more flavor but didn’t have
    cranberries. I used orange zest
    (from 3 oranges) plus a bit of
    salt. It was DELICIOUS!
    I found that mixing the filling in
    the food processor was not easy –
    the filling kept balling up above
    the blades and not actually mixing
    very well – any other suggestions
    would be appreciated for my future
    use of recipe. I did final mix with
    my hands to ensure the cheeses were
    well blended.
    I also took the reviewers advice to
    make all of the ‘cigar fillers’ and
    freeze for 20 minutes or so prior to
    rolling into phyllo. that worked
    like a dream.
    I baked a couple of testers to see
    how the orange worked out then froze
    the rest unbaked with plans to use
    them next week.

  • These were very good. I added a bit
    of dried thyme (fresh would have
    been better but I didn’t have any).
    I had no problem forming the filling
    for the cigars. However the filling
    did ooze out at both ends when I
    baked them. I used a milder, less
    salty, French feta. Next time, I
    would use a sharper feta.

  • 2nd time around
    these-resolved the
    soft filling problem
    by rolling all at
    once then chilled
    briefly while
    getting filo ready.
    Also used cranberry
    goat cheese (Trader
    Joes) in place of
    cream cheese which
    helped for that
    extra layer of
    flavor needed.
    Recently served for
    clients as 1st
    appetizer at dinner
    They all enjoyed so
    this is a

  • Needs another layer
    of flavor. 100%
    better with the
    addition of dried
    cranberries to the
    filling or next
    time, I may try
    goat cheese in place
    of the feta for that
    tangy taste. While
    I work with phyllo A
    LOT and understand
    that it can be very
    labor intensive,
    the filling is the
    challenge here. It
    gets too soft to
    roll, even with
    breadcrumbs on my
    hands. Had to
    refrigerate several
    times throughout the
    process. BTW, you
    can freeze (baked)
    for up to a month as
    long as you use
    proper freezer
    containers & fill
    empty space with
    crunched up wax
    paper. Considering
    the Athens phyllo I
    used was not as
    large as what this
    recipe states, I was
    still able to make
    30 with the filling.
    Will be trying
    these out on my
    holiday clients-stay tuned for their input! One last bit of advice regarding phyllo dough- invest in a Roulpat- saves on clean up.

  • These are pretty good. Easy and fun to make but not amazing,

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