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Among the easiest of appetizers to bring to a party is dip. Dips are one of those dishes that I think pretty much everybody likes, and everybody also pretty much has a favorite; spinach and artichoke, black bean, sour cream and onion…there are just too many combinations out there, which would explain why I have about 35 different dip recipes waiting to be tried.
This recipe has been knocking around my many kitchens for years now. I first experimented with it when I was still living in my house out in Warren County in New Jersey. I’d planned a Christmas gathering where I’d invited all of my neighbors, and because I was just starting out, I did not have a lot of money to spend on a big dinner. The idea was to do a presentation of heavy appetizers, desserts, and of course, a couple of different dips. Without question, this one was so successful at that Christmas party, that I kept the recipe. After all, it was easy enough.
Two houses later, and after a move here to Charleston, the recipe is still with me. I’ve tried it with toasted Pecans for a slightly sweeter taste, and also with a variety of fresh herbs including Tarragon for a really fresh and Spring-like variation. It’s easy enough to alter the heat with the addition of more red pepper flakes, and also to adjust the garlic by adding more or less. Roasting garlic adds a lot of sweet, caramelized flavor, but in this post, I’ve used Dorot, my go-to garlic for a blast of true garlic flavor.
This dip works well with warmed, toasted pita points, Lavosh, or pictured here, a basic flatbread cracker studded with only sea salt – it’s hard to stop eating so we can get the shots in for the pictures, but we’ve managed it.
INGREDIENTS FOR WHIPPED FETA DIP WITH TOASTED BLACK WALNUTS AND GARLIC
2 large cloves garlic (I use Dorot)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1 cup walnut halves, toasted
1 1/2 cups feta cheese, crumbles
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 to 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, leaves and (trimmed) stems
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
In a 350 degree oven, toast the walnuts until the oils begin to give off an aroma, about 12 minutes. Be sure to toss the walnuts while toasting. Alternatively, this method can be performed in a non-stick skillet on the stove top.
Next combine the walnuts, the crumbled feta, milk, oregano, parsley, black pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until very smooth. Scrape the dip into serving dish using a rubber spatula. Drizzle dip with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
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