On busy workdays, and often not on busy workdays too, I’m a grazer, meaning I’m more satisfied snacking on little bites here and there than I am on full meals. This is partly because I’m frequently on the go, and sometimes stopping for a break, even to sit down and eat, can easily deflate my energy and motivation, rendering me useless until I can find a way to get back into my groove. Also, grazing keeps my taste buds happy, providing them lots of variety throughout the day.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that I tend to graze even more in the summer than in the winter, so I make sure during these months to have a lot of quality snacks on hand. Items such as cheese, olives, and nuts, and leftover and charcuterie meats are great for easily accessible protein and healthy fat, while fresh, raw veggies and fruit round out my nutrient intake. The veggies are particularly great in the summer, since they provide a refreshing crunch that really helps quench the heat. And since it can get really hot in a kitchen, with all the burners going and the oven on, I need all the heat quenching I can get!
Sometimes, if I get my act together, I’ll whip up a quick dip to have around, inspiring me even more than usual to keep up my vegetable intake. And Roasted Pepper Feta Dip is one of my all-time favorites. It’s incredibly simple to make, using only a handful of ingredients, and it’s downright delicious. Also, I love the fact that it provides plenty of fresh vegetables in itself, unlike the more common dips hummus and ranch (not that there’s anything wrong with those!).
Roasting fresh peppers concentrates their flavor, and this dip is a great way to highlight that distinct, assertive taste. Fresh garlic and briny feta play off the sweet-and-savory flavor of the peppers, providing a layered taste sensation of sweet, spicy, and salty. It’s a perfect, transportable accompaniment for a picnic lunch, potluck, or backyard holiday barbecue. Moreover, it’s much healthier than most common picnic foods, providing protein, vitamins, and healthy fats in a natural, whole-food package.
Like any dip, Roasted Pepper Feta Dip works splendidly with raw veggies, chips, or crackers, but I highly suggest you do not treat this dip as simply a “dip.” It makes a tasty sandwich or burger spread and is absolutely to die for inside a crusty, golden grilled cheese sandwich. It also works as a pasta sauce, is fantastic with eggs, and is insanely delicious used as a basting sauce or marinade for grilled or roasted meats, seafood, or veggies. I’ve even whisked it into salad dressings, both creamy and vinaigrettes, with great results. Because of all this versatility, I usually make an extra-big batch.
You’ll need just four ingredients to make up this dip, and it can be made with either freshly cooked peppers or, in a pinch, jarred roasted peppers. Be sure to use a tasty olive oil that isn’t terribly bitter for the best results. If possible, try to make the dip at least one hour before serving. This gives the flavors time to meld and also improves the texture, in my opinion, since the refrigeration solidifies the olive oil a bit.
Roasted Pepper Feta Dip
Note: If you’re using jarred roasted pepper instead of roasting your own, you will need four or even five whole peppers, since they tend to be smaller than large fresh ones.
Makes about 2 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook time: 10 minutes (if roasting your own peppers)
3 large fresh red bell peppers, or 4–5 jarred whole roasted peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
- If roasting your own peppers: Turn grill or gas range to high flame. Place peppers directly on grill or stove grate and roast them, turning frequently with tongs, until they are blackened on all sides. Transfer charred peppers to a large bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand 5–10 minutes. Remove peppers from bowl and peel (the skin should slip off easily). Allow peppers to cool completely to room temperature.
- Place roasted peppers, garlic, olive oil, and feta into the bowl of a food processor. Blend on full speed until silky and pureed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour dip into a serving bowl or storage container and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Image from Briana Goodall.