Friday, January 23, 2009

Duo of Dips --- Roasted Red Pepper and Feta & Lemony Chickpea and Thyme

When entertaining I find the easiest option to include in a spread of appetizers is a tasty dip accompanied by toasted pita triangles, crispy bread rounds or zesty crackers. There are, of course, endless possibilities from melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), to kopanisti (Greek cheese dip), to kafteri (spicy Greek feta dip), to tzatziki (the well-known yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip, although chatty guests and garlic aren't a very good mix), to traditional hummus or two of my favorites, a flavorful roasted red pepper and feta dip and a lemony chickpea and thyme spread.

Whether you roast fresh red bell peppers or invest in a good jar of roasted red peppers, or whether you prep dried chickpeas or use canned chickpeas, these dips are simple and satisfying. Serve alongside plump Kalamata olives and you're good to go (those shiny, tart and meaty olives pictured above come to you directly from my father-in-law's grove in Agrinio, where he grows two types, Kalamata and Agriniou).

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip

2 red bell peppers
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Place whole red peppers on an oiled baking sheet and "roast" under the broiler until the skin is well charred and the peppers tender. Remove from baking sheet, place in a plastic or paper bag and cool. Once cooled, remove peppers from bag, peel skin, remove seeds and cut stem.

Add the peppers to the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic and lemon juice and process until smooth. Stir in the crumbled feta, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and parsley and pulse the food processor a couple of times. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lemony Chickpea and Thyme Dip

2 cups chickpeas (if using canned, rinse chickpeas and drain or if using dried, soak chickpeas in water overnight, drain, then simmer about two hours until tender)
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon, juiced
Thyme from about 3 fresh sprigs
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and mix. Add the olive oil a little at a time, processing until the mixture is smooth (adding more olive oil as necessary). Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Peter G said...

Delicious Maria and very the look of the olives!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Maria, I love chick peas. My mom use to eat them all the time. The dip sounds like something she would like very much. I think I'll make it. Thank you my friend for a great recipe.

gastroanthropologist said...

Thank you for reminding me how much I love red pepper feta dip! There is a restaurant I used to go to and would order their hamburgers specifically for the red pepper feta the fries came with.

Now I will be making this at home.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

bravo maria, great combination, great photo - the flavours seem to come alive from it

Hopie said...

I love dips. I've been meaning to post a feta dip I've made a few times recently. Your version looks delicious!

History of Greek Food said...

Simple and delicious dips... the feta-pepper can also be used as a sauce for steamed potatoes and other vegetables.

Peter M said...

Gorgeous opening photo...the olives are like huge caviar roe.

My fave is red pepper dip...good summer or winter.

Ivy said...

Where's the ouzo Maria? My favourites are those huge olives but the other dips sound delicious as well.

Lori Lynn said...

What a neat serving dish!
Your dips sound excellent and how lucky are you to get olives right from the grower!
Thanks for visiting my blog.
Lori Lynn

Giff said...

great for entertaining, thanks for ideas

Laurie Constantino said...

You photographs are so clear and expressive, I can tell exactly how wonderful these taste. Congrats to the lucky people who were able to dive right into this!

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