Tips for Rookie Cooks

SNACKS AND STARTERS.part Four

SNACKS AND STARTERS

1-Spicy Feta Spread

A tiny bit of this flavorful delight goes a long way. Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor— just mince the garlic first and mix ingredients with a fork, mashing the feta well. Spread leftovers on a sandwich with roasted veggies, or crumble into a green salad.

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 6 ounces (about 1¼ cups) crumbled feta
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • ½–1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)

Chop garlic in a food processor. Add feta, oregano, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice and process until well combined. Serve at room temperature.

Make it ahead

  • The spread can be stored in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Serve it with

  • Toasted pita wedges, cucumber slices, and sweet cherry tomatoes

Change it up

  • Substitute another fresh herb, such as dill, for the oregano.
  • Use as a filling for roasted, peeled, and seeded mild or medium-spicy long peppers, such as Anaheim,
  • Fresno, or pasilla chiles. Broil the stuffed peppers until bubbly, about 5 or 6 minutes, and serve hot with
  • crusty bread.

2-Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

This salty, tangy olive spread is great on crusty bread or crackers, tossed with pasta, or dolloped onto grilled or poached fish. It’s also the featured player in our Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade Sandwich. A food processor makes quick work of this recipe, but you can also simply mince all the ingredients finely and stir them together in a bowl.

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 8 ounces pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 4 ounces (about ½ cup) oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons (tightly packed) minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about half a lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, mince the garlic. Add olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil leaves and process to a chunky purée. Add anchovy paste (if using), lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil and process until just combined. (Alternatively, you can mince all ingredients by hand and stir them together in a bowl.)

Make it ahead:

  • Tapenade will keep, covered, in the fridge for several days.

Serve it with

  • Crusty bread, pita chips, or crackers
  • Hummus, feta, and fresh vegetables, as part of an appetizer platter
  • Baked, broiled, grilled, or poached fish or seafood

Change it up

  • Replace the sun-dried tomatoes with several minced artichoke hearts or half a roasted red bell pepper.

3-White Bean Spread with Parmesan and Mint

Fresh garlic and mint give this deceptively simple spread intense flavor, cayenne pepper adds a nice kick, and rich Parmesan cheese pulls it all together. This is one recipe that requires the use of a food processor. Other methods of mashing or puréeing the beans will result in an unpleasant grainy texture.

  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup (tightly packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/ 8–¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese

Chop garlic in a food processor. Add beans, olive oil, mint, water, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne and purée until smooth. Add cheese and process until well combined.

Make it ahead

  • The spread will keep, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days.

Serve it with

  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Raw radicchio, endive, or other vegetables for dipping
  • Pita chips or crackers
  • Baked, broiled, or grilled salmon or shrimp

Change it up

  • Use basil in place of the mint.

4-Artichokes with Lemon-Tahini Dip

Artichokes add a dramatic presence to any table. Plus they’re a natural choice for lazy hosts, as the guests wind up doing most of the labor! As an alternative to the Lemon-Tahini Dip, try dipping your artichoke leaves in our Balsamic Syrup or any of our Compound Butters, melted.

  • 4 medium artichokes
  • 1 recipe Lemon-Tahini Dip

Clean the artichokes under running water, brushing lightly with a vegetable brush to remove the bitter outer film if necessary. Cut off the thorny portion, about the top inch or so, from each artichoke. (A serrated knife works well.) You don’t need to remove all of the thorns since the smaller ones will soften during cooking. Trim the stem down to about an inch in length. Place the artichokes, cut side down, in a vegetable steamer inside a large pot containing about an inch of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until stems are easily pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes for medium artichokes. Alternatively, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add artichokes, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until stems are easily pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes for medium artichokes. Adjust time for smaller or larger artichokes. Drain artichokes before serving by placing them upside down in a colander for a few minutes. Pluck off the tough outer leaves at the bottom of the artichoke and discard them. Serve with one big bowl or several individual dishes of Lemon-Tahini Dip.

Make it ahead

  • The artichokes and dip can both be made ahead and stored, separately, in covered containers in the fridge
  • for a couple of days.

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