Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Appetizer That's Bursting with Flavor: Garlicky Sun-Dried Tomato Spread with Feta

I’m not sure how it happened, but my calendar says NOVEMBER...which means that the holiday season is nearly upon us again! That means it’s time to start testing a few recipes so I’m ready for all the holiday parties, dinners, and potlucks coming up the rest of this year! Don't get me wrong...I love ranch dip and queso as much as the next girl. But...I like to take something a bit out-of-the-ordinary when I bring a dish to a party.

I found the recipe that I’m sharing today in The Best American Recipes 2002-2003 cookbook awhile back, and I made a mental note to try it out. I’m so glad I did:  Garlicky Sun-Dried Tomato Spread with Feta is sure-fire winner…it’s full of flavor and very versatile! The ingredients remind me a bit of pesto since it has nuts, parmesan, and olive oil. The only thing missing is basil…and I’m thinking that you could add a few leaves for flavor if you have some on hand. The only big change I made to the original recipe was to reduce the amount of garlic and add a bit of creamy feta.

The original recipe called for four cloves of garlic, but that seemed a bit…pungent…for a social gathering. I reduced the amount to one large clove, and the garlic flavor was still quite pronounced. If you REALLY love garlic, feel free to use the full amount. You can also roast the garlic to make the flavor more mellow and sweet. This recipe is really simple to whip up with ingredients that I have on hand in my kitchen most of the time. Simply add a few ingredients to a food processor and give it a quick whirl. It’s literally ready to serve in less than 15 minutes…and 10 minutes of that is spent soaking the sun-dried tomatoes in water to plump them up.

Garlicky Sun-Dried Tomato Spread with Feta
adapted from The Best American Recipes 2002-2003

Step 1:  Add 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes to a measuring cup and cover with warm water. Let the tomatoes plump up for 10 minutes, while you gather the rest of your ingredients. This works similar to plumping raisins before you cook with them.

Step 2:  Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add 1/3 cup grated parm-reggiano cheese, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 large garlic clove (grated).

Step 3:  Pulse the ingredients 5-6 times, until incorporated. It's ok if it's a bit chunky. Add 1/4 cup good feta cheese. My favorite feta is Israeli sheep feta...it's creamy, salty, and has a nice tang to it. Pulse another 2-3 times to incorporate the feta into the spread.

Step 4:  To serve, spoon the spread into a small bowl or ramekin. I placed the ramekin in the middle of a white serving plate and surrounded it with bagel chips for dipping. This spread is thick, so a hearty chip or cracker is a must.

I freely admit that this isn't the prettiest dish I've featured in here. But? The flavor of this spread is AMAZING…the sweet-tangy sun-dried tomatoes pair really nicely with the rich flavors of the cheese, almonds, and olive oil. The garlic flavor is definitely there, but it’s not enough to make your breath offensive at a social gathering. And the feta? It adds a bit of creaminess and salt. I'm glad I added it on a whim, because I think it brought the whole flavor profile together!

I can see many uses for this spread…it’s fantastic with the bagel chips, and I’m thinking it would also be great spooned on top of a block of cream cheese and served with crackers. If you have any left, I’m betting that it would be really yummy tossed with some penne pasta for a simple weeknight dinner. Toss up a salad and make some garlic bread…and you’ve got dinner on the table in about 15 minutes! I hope you’ll give this a try…I’m planning to pair this spread with Tuscan White Bean Dip as a perfect appetizer one-two punch at my holiday parties!

Before I leave, I want to remind you to scroll down to my previous post and enter to win one of TWO jars of Biscoff Spread that I'm going to be giving away later this week. This stuff is so good, but it can be difficult to find on grocery store shelves. Two of my readers are going to win a jar to try for themselves, so don't miss out on your chance to win! Scroll down and leave me a comment!

1 comment:

  1. It's basically a sun-dried tomato pesto, right? Love the flavor combination--buzzed!


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