Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Trio of Mediterranean Inspired Dips

We were invited over to someone's house and asked to bring an appetizer along. Our host told us that the menu included shrimp and swordfish kabobs, couscous, and salad with feta. I wanted to make something to go along with the Mediterranean/Greek theme, so I looked online at the menus of my favorite Greek restaurants. A lot of the appetizers needed to be served right from the oven or seemed to heavy. Keeping in mind that our dinner hosts don't eat garlic, onions, or spicy foods - I decided to do a search of my cookbook collection and find something I could customize. After searching for a little while, I decided to whip a few dips to eat with pita chips.

These were quick and easy to pull together - perfect to make ahead and keep in the fridge until party time. Here's the line up:

Dip #1 - Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
Dip #2 - Olive Tapenade with Sundried Tomatoes
Dip #3 - Low-fat Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt dip)

All the dips can be served with pita chips, veggies, toasted baguettes, or crackers.

*Recipe note - I omitted garlic from all of the recipes.

Dip #1 - Red Pepper and Walnut Dip (adapted from Cooking Light)

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted (I forgot to toast them and it was still good)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 12-ounce bottle of roasted red peppers, drained (I used a 7 oz. jar)

Place all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth
Put into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

Dip #2 - Olive Tapenade with Sundried Tomatoes

This is a great idea when you have a lot of assorted leftovers in the fridge. It can be customized depending on your taste. Here's my version:

About 1 cup of assorted pitted olives (I got a few scoops from the olive/antipasto bar at the grocery store)
2 sundried tomatoes (from a jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil)
Few sprigs of fresh parsley
Zest from half a lemon

Same instructions as dip #1:
Place all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth
Put into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

Dip #3 - Low-fat Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt dip) (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 32-ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
1.5 cups shredded English cucumber (about 3/4 of a large cucumber)
3/4 teaspoon salt - divided into 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

This recipe has two steps. To prepare the yogurt, you need 12+ hours. The rest of the recipe takes about 20 minutes the next day (or later)

Place a colander into a large bowl
Line the colander with cheesecloth if you have it. I used basket coffee filters to lining the interior of the colander
Spoon the yogurt onto the filters
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12+ hours
After 12 hours, remove from the fridge and spoon the yogurt into a bowl and discard the excess liquid
Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients

Shred the cucumber using a grater or mandoline with grater blade
Place it into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Toss well to combine and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes
After 15 minutes, pour the cucumber onto a large paper towel
Squeeze until almost all water is gone (you may need to transfer to a dry paper towel a few times and repeat)

Combine the yogurt, cucumber, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, chopped parsley, lemon juice and pepper in a serving bowl and mix well
Drizzle the olive on top just before serving

I'll post pictures from the party when we return!

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