Thursday, July 14, 2011

Homemade


Without meaning to, I have become one of those people…the kind of person who when presented with a pre-made convenience item at the store, first gasps at the price tag and then makes the very immodest declaration that I could make it myself at home and the finished product will not only cost less, but will taste much better, thank you very much.

I’ve noticed this behavior on several occasions lately. Not long ago, we were at a winery that sold your usual array of gourmet food items. Those wineries know what they’re doing, don’t they? Pairing people drinking wine all day with pricey pre-packaged treats is marketing genius. We were both eyeing a bottle of Thai dipping sauce/marinade/salad dressing that cost $6.99. Even in my (possibly) less than sober state I knew that whisking together a dipping sauce would not cost me $6.99. C’mon…it’s mostly oil and vinegar! I scoffed and wrote down all the non-chemical sounding ingredients so I could recreate it at home. Most recently we were at Costco, impulse-shopping our little hearts out, when Andy presented me with a vat of tomato-feta dip. I must admit that this one almost made it into the cart, until I came to my senses and realized that there was no way we could eat all that before it went bad. And at the price that Costco sells their feta, it was a no-brainer anyway…I could make five times the amount of dip as we needed it with that much feta. Skimming through the ingredients, I knew this one would be a snap to make, in a much more manageable size.


The funny thing is that what drives me isn’t necessarily the health factor or even the money factor. Sure, both play a part, but I’ve never been particularly adamant about buying organic or natural. But more so lately it definitely crosses my mind when I read over a list of ingredients and have no idea what half of them are. If I can make basically the same thing from scratch, minus all the additives and preservatives, I’m making a difference in our diets without really even meaning to, and that makes me feel good, because I should probably make up for my adoration of heavy cream, butter and salt somehow.

In instances like these, when I see a change in myself, I can usually blame it on my mom. My propensities towards not leaving the house after noon, refusing to buy clothes that cost more than $10 a piece, and scouring the internet for hours to find the best deals on travel can all be attributed to my having some of her genes. But this one? No way…my mom doesn’t cook. She would happily serve pre-made items ‘til the cows came home. She has said herself that if it weren’t for my dad cooking, she would eat frozen pizzas and canned soup for dinner every night. (And yes, I completely believe her.) So since I can’t put this on my mom, I guess I can only blame it on my ever growing desire to push myself to make what I believe to be really good food. At least I hope that’s what I’m doing…

Since I haven’t actually tried the Costco version of this dip, I have no idea if it tastes anything like it, let alone better. But regardless, I think it’s pretty tasty, and so did everyone that tried it. The best thing about it is that you really can throw it together in minutes, and most of these ingredients are things you probably have on hand.


Spicy Tomato-Feta Dip with Grilled Pita Bread

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped basil, loosely packed
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups feta cheese

pita bread
olive oil
salt and pepper

Put first 9 ingredients into a food processor and run until completely pureed. Add feta cheese and pulse until the mixture is incorporated and no large chunks remain. Taste mixture for seasonings and adjust as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Brush both sides of pita bread lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Grill pita bread over high heat until toasted and slightly crispy. Cut each into 8 pieces. (Pita chips can be used as a substitute.)


This dip is a wonderful combination of bold flavors and textures. The chewy crispness of the grilled pita topped with the spicy, salty, tangy feta dip makes a delicious bite. Make a full batch of this…it goes fast.


I almost didn’t make this dish, for fear that it would seem like I was “cheating” by taking my idea from a pre-made product. But then I realized that likely everything I’ve ever made has been made before in some form. After all, I’m not reinventing the wheel here, I’m just trying to make it my own…

31 comments:

  1. You are SO right! I'm totally with you... it's not always about the money, but at home it's definitely healthier and almost always tastes better. (I do have to admit to a few failures... :) )
    My husband always is frustrated when we go to a certain friend's house for "dinner" and she pulls out a table full of Costco... none of it very good, and none if it very good for you.
    Printed and saved! This little dip will be perfect for a summer afternoon... Perhaps with some Costco wine?? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks like a great dip! I can almost taste the soury, spicy goodness! Definitely on my to cook list!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Karen this looks so delicious!! What a great appetizer and your pictures are fabulous! Saving this recipe for myself :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like the way you think. I often get my ideas from pre-made items, just look at the ingredients and see what I can come up with on my own. The other nice thing about making it yourself, besides knowing everything that goes into it is you can make it the way you like it. Whether it is spicier or not as sweet or if it's with pistachios rather that pepitas.

    Now this dip sounds so good! I am glad you came up with a version so I can make it too. I will bring this to my book club (I'm the only one that makes my own hummus to bring). Do you make your own pita bread? :D

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great homemade dip. Maybe for my bbq this weekend. Thanks for the recipe

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for the recipe dear i'm sure my mama will love this homemade dip

    ReplyDelete
  7. This tomato feta dip looks delicious- I love all of the summery flavors you've used. I lean toward making my own food, or looking for the items in the grocery store with the fewest ingredients on the label. (at least ones I can pronounce, anyway.) I don't eschew packaged food entirely though- sometimes it's handy in a pinch! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I definitely react the same way, especially to dips and pesto! Your tomato feta dip looks fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yum! This dip looks great!!! And pita bread is like, my ultimate favorite!

    ReplyDelete
  10. That looks spectacular! Great flavor combo. And I'm sure yours is better than the store version...I don't NEED to try it to know that :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. This looks amazing! I am sure it blows any store bought one out of the water!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Looks Delish!!! I'm with you sister, homemade kicks butt on store bought any day! Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. This dip was really yummy. You'll have to make it again for us since you know I won't do it!
    Mom

    ReplyDelete
  14. Your pictures are beautiful! You and I think very much alike. When I see something, tho. My first thought is - if I make it at home, it'll taste better! Plus, not being able to pronounce half the chemical ingredients is a turn off! Dip looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This post is too funny. I ALWAYS see things and say that I could make it better. My bf totally makes fun of me :) This dip looks delicious...and I totally bet that yours is better than the jarred one ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. This sounds and looks delicious and I'm totally bookmarking it! You are so right about making things from scratch whenever you can. I have increasingly embraced this philosophy too, cutting out seasoning packets, bouillon cubes and the like from our diet. Why bother when you can do it yourself for better, cheaper and healthier?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ooh! This is lovely! I, too, am one of those people who gasps and am outraged at the exorbitant prices of some things. It's nuts! Hooray for making your own version; it looks smashing!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love this idea! I did a chunky feta salsa similar, but I love the idea of making it more "dip" like. Easier to serve at parties, for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I totally, absolutely LOVE this dip! I wouldn't share it...I honestly think I could eat up that entire bowl all on my own. Delish!

    ReplyDelete
  20. This sounds amazing! I am book marking to make this soon, I love you did it with grilled pita bread. Your photos are so pretty too!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Love, love, love. Especially with the addition of the feta - it just looks so chunky. and good.

    Thanks for such a wonderful recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I always prefer home made to shop bought and this sounds yummy and super easy :-) will definately try it out.

    ReplyDelete
  23. here, here! Homemade is always better than pre-packaged. I would take your recipe over the Cosco stuff any day! Looks great. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  24. The additives and preservatives get me everytime also.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Your dip looks wonderful! And your presentation is so pretty. I'm quite obsessed with making everything at home too - the less processed the better. I'm positive this is better than anything you could of bought!

    ReplyDelete
  26. This dip looks delicious! I can't eat too spicy but I can control the spice level. I'll be totally addicting to this dip. Yum!

    ReplyDelete
  27. YUM! Can't wait to try it!!! I featured this recipe on my blog! Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Karen - I made this last night after it was posted to Andrew Murray Vineyards' website. Andrew and Kristen Murray stopped by to sample it as an appetizer paired with the 2010 RGB (per your suggestion). Everyone LOVED it (even my 12 year-old son who is normally not terribly adventurous)! Thank you for sharing! PS - it was easy to make and I even had fresh basil from my garden.

    ReplyDelete
  29. nice dish thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis