The Lighter Side of Super Bowl

Whipped Feta, Vegetables, Pitsa, 2Super Bowl cooking is a hot topic in Massachusetts this week since the New England Patriots will be playing for the title against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. My son, a huge Pats fan, called several days ago to discuss what he should bring to a neighborhood game party, and I’ve also been considering what to offer on the big day.

After all that indulgent holiday eating, I’ve been trying to keep our menus lighter, even when entertaining. An appetizer I’ve served twice recently is whipped feta with a colorful array of vegetables and toasted pita triangles. On both occasions this dip was a hit with guests, and it scored points with me for its quick and easy preparation.

Using a block of feta, I simply broke the cheese into pieces and combined it in a food processor with seasonings of lemon, oregano, and black pepper. Olive oil and water thinned out the cheese mixture and made it easy to spread. Sliced cucumbers, halved Campari or cherry tomatoes, and julienned yellow peppers added a burst of color, while toasted whole wheat pita triangles sprinkled with sumac or za’atar completed the garnishes.

Game time for Super Bowl LI is 6:30 PM! Go Pats!

 

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Whipped Feta with Cucumbers, Yellow Peppers, Tomatoes, and Toasted Pitas

Whipped Feta Dip
8 oz block feta
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dried oregano
Several generous grinds of black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley or chives

Garnishes
Three 7- to 8-inch whole wheat pita breads
5 tbsp olive oil plus extra if needed, for brushing on the pitas
Generous 1 tsp sumac or za’atar (See note.)
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 cup Campari or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch wide julienne strips

1. For the dip, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is blended and fairly smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. (Dip can be prepared 1 day ahead. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes or longer and whisk well before using.)

2. For the pitas, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Halve each pita horizontally into two rounds. Then stack the rounds and cut them into 8 wedges so you have a total of 48 triangles. Place the triangles on two foil-lined baking sheets and brush them with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sumac or za’atar. Bake, on sheet at a time until crisp and light golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully so that the pitas do not burn. Remove and cool to room temperature. (Pita triangles can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

3. To serve, spoon the whipped feta into a serving bowl and place on a platter. Garnish with the vegetables and pita triangles. Serves 10 to 12.

Note: Sumac, a ground spice made from red berries, has a tangy lemon flavor. Za’atar, a fragrant blend of dried herbs, often including thyme and oregano, as well as sesame seeds and sumac, is a flavoring used in Middle Eastern Cooking. Sumac and za’atar are available in specialty groceries and on line. My local Whole Foods sells them both.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2017

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