This year, I celebrated the 4th of July at the home of my friends Lyle and Cybele. We were all working. A lot. Lyle and I at our respective, sister restaurants; Cybele was finishing up her final exams. The return of texts and phone calls was delayed, at best. So when I heard back from Lyle as to what I could bring to the party, the answer was:
“Little snackie bits…use your imagination as to the definition of ‘snackie bits.'”
And then I went off to work and forgot about everything else until the next morning which, of course, was the morning of the party.
Brilliant. I had less than an hour to figure out what I was going to bring, go shopping, make “snackie bits”, shower, and catch a train.
I was in a major pinch. A non-life-threatening pinch, certainly, but a pinch, just the same.
There’s nothing like leaving everything to the last minute to add a little zest to a lazy holiday. I decided I’d save time if I just showed up at the grocery store and stare at the shelves until my eyes caught hold of something.
Pre-roasted peppers and garlic? Yes, please. It’s cheating, I know but, to borrow a term I learned at culinary school, it would be “cheating with style.” Why exactly it was stylish, I didn’t have a clue, but it made me feel better about myself (and everything was roasted on site), so I went with it. It’s not as if I were about to turn into Sandra Lee or anything– I’m not blonde nor do I have a hot Italian-American boyfriend. I figured that, if I kept my head down, I might just get away with this without The Food Network offering me my own television program.
So I went home and made this dip in less than 5 minutes.
It was a hit at the party served with pita chips and pretty much anything else that can be dragged through something creamy and then safely ingested.
The next time you’re in a pinch for something dippy and “snackie”, you just might want to give this baby a try.
Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip
This recipe is so open to interpretation. Green chiles, red peppers, black olives, green olives, feta, goat cheese. It’s totally up to you. Add a pinch of this, a pinch of that. Whatever you decide to do, just make it your own. And make it fast.
5 to 6 roasted red peppers, peeled and seeded.
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
8 cloves of roasted garlic
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
A pinch of salt
A dash of white wine vinegar
Castelvetrano olives, chopped and pitted, for garnish. Lots of ’em.
1. Throw peppers, ricotta, feta, roasted garlic into food processor. Purée until smooth. Look at watch and decide whether or not you have time to shave before dashing off to catch the 12:15 to Belmont. Taste.
2. Adjust seasoning. Add salt, if desired. And vinegar. If you feel the need for more paprika or roasted garlic, so be it.
3. Purée again. If the dip is now to your liking, scoop out into a bowl that can be covered securely and discreetly taken onto public transportation.
4. Shower, run out the door to meet your awaiting cab, realize you’ve forgotten your bathing suit, run back upstairs, stuff suit into bag on top of well-wrapped roasted pepper dip, back downstairs, into cab, onto train and down to Belmont.
5. To serve, transfer dip into attractive serving bowl, garnish with olives, yell at woman-you-haven’t-met-yet who says the dip looks delicious and moves to dip her piece of pita in it because you haven’t gotten the chance to photograph it yet, take a picture, find same woman, apologize, and then offer her the first taste.
6. Pour yourself a stiff little glass of tsipouro and relax.