Saturday, August 31, 2013

Greek Layered Dip with Pita Chips-Cathy

This "Greek" dip/spread is one of my latest addictions that I learned from my friend, Linda.  It is so fresh-tasting and wonderful and it's sooo easy, too!

We were visiting our friends, Tom and Linda Huth outside of Boston for the second time in sixth or so months because of business trips--after not seeing them for eighteen or so years! They were kind enough to let us stay with (ahem, mooch off) them both times, and showed us around some beautiful areas of Martha's Vineyard, too. 

They let us play with their ridiculously cute dog, Gilligan (who misses his Aunty Cathy very much, I just know--we even took a nap together, with him curled around the top of my head) and they were even  nice enough to feed us very, very well.  

One night, as an appetizer Linda whipped up this amazing dip that is full of wonderful flavors and lots of chopped veggies and herbs.  She served it with freshly baked pita chips and it was oh, so delicious that we couldn't stop eating it until the whole thing was pretty much gone. And then we proceeded to eat a very large, most excellent BBQ dinner.  All that deliciousness in addition to my constant Boston obsession with searching out the best lobster rolls, clam chowder, pho, and cannolis... Hey, our friends have a really good rowing machine in their basement that we really did use! And some good running to be done in Boston besides. Whew!

But okay, really, I'm telling you--you've got to try this stuff!  I've made it a bunch of times since being home, and it's always been devoured--and not just by me. So here, with very slight adaptations (mostly out of sheer laziness), is Linda's delicious recipe.

One year ago: Baby Bok Choi and Snow Peas, and Blueberry Banana Bread
Two years ago: Spicy Edamame, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake 

what you will need:

for the dip: 

8 oz. container softened cream cheese (Linda uses chive and onion--I try to use up my overgrown chives and/or green onions and just mix them in)
8 oz. hummus (storebought or homemade--excellent recipe coming sometime here!)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (I use tender-skinned and seedless cucumbers, so no skinning, and I leave the "seeds" in)
3 nice tomatoes, chopped (Linda uses seeded plum tomatoes, but I use whatever I have, and I'm far too lazy to seed)
1 (2 1/4  oz) can sliced black olives (I just open a big can, slice up a bunch, then ummm, eat a bunch of the rest and save some for later--so about 1/2 cup sliced up)
4 0z. (or so) crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped green onions, more if you are using plain cream cheese, reserving some for the top (or chives if that's what you've got.  And I do! Almost all year, even under snow)
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped oregano (I use lots more!)

for the pita chips: 

1 pkg. pita breads (with pockets. We like to use whole wheat)
Olive oil and kosher salt 

Set out the cream cheese to soften up a bit while you work on the pitas--even though it's already softer than your normal stuff.  It's okay if you forget though; it just helps to make it easier to spread out later.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Carefully split the pitas at the seams into two flat pieces.  This is easiest if you get the tip of a knife to start, then usually I use my fingers to pull apart at the seams.  Like this:

Then stack them up, cut them into wedges--I usually do them in 8 wedges, but 6 are fine, too.  Put the wedges onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (Linda uses olive oil spray, a clever alternative), sprinkle with a bit of salt to taste, then try to toss the pieces to spread the oil and salt a bit without too many pieces ending up on the floor.  Though my dog, Molly is generally pretty happy about any scraps that do end up there. 

Don't worry about any little pieces that break away; it's amazing how people (myself included) will eat even the tiniest scraps of homemade pita chips.  And yes, I know that you can buy them at the store, but honestly, these are so much better!  And this way you can control the amount of oil and salt that goes into them. We've been making pita chips this way for years; it really is so easy to make big batches of them and they are so good.

Put them in the preheated oven, and bake for 10 minutes or so, until brown and crisp, turning and tossing them gently once halfway through so that they can brown evenly.

 Meanwhile, select a pretty plate or you can even use a pie plate--whatever you've got.  

Spread cream cheese out nicely into a circle onto your plate or pie plate, gooshing in most (but not all! save some for the top!) of the chives/green onions as you work.  Then depending on how soft your hummus is, either drop in dollops, and spread or just smoosh and spread out in a layer on top of the cream cheese.  Like this:

And yes, goosh and smoosh are words, in case you are wondering.  In my world, anyway.  And I'm a mom, and I said so, so there.  But I digress...

Next, layer on the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers (look how gorgeous this Asian cucumber from Kevin's garden is in the photo!) and the olives.  Then crumble up the Feta all over--as much as you like--I like lots! 

Sprinkle with the reserved chives/green onion and the chopped oregano.  If you hold your hand way up high to do this, it spreads more evenly.  I learned this from an old neighbor years ago who owned a wonderful restaurant in town--a simple tip, but it works so well when you are trying to sprinkle something finely chopped evenly over the top of your dish.

And you're done!  Look how gorgeous!  Dig in with your chips, making sure to scoop down to the bottom to get all of the luscious, tasty layers and try to save some room for dinner.  It's pretty tough, I tell you!

Two years ago: Spicy Edamame, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake 


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