When entertaining I find the easiest option to include in a spread of appetizers is a tasty dip accompanied by toasted pita triangles, crispy bread rounds or zesty crackers. There are, of course, endless possibilities from melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), to kopanisti (Greek cheese dip), to kafteri (spicy Greek feta dip), to tzatziki (the well-known yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip, although chatty guests and garlic aren’t a very good mix), to traditional hummus or two of my favorites, a flavorful roasted red pepper and feta dip and a lemony chickpea and thyme spread.
Whether you roast fresh red bell peppers or invest in a good jar of roasted red peppers, or whether you prep dried chickpeas or use canned chickpeas, these dips are simple and satisfying. Serve alongside plump Kalamata olives and you’re good to go (those shiny, tart and meaty olives pictured above come to you directly from my father-in-law’s grove in Agrinio, where he grows two types, Kalamata and Agriniou).
Place whole red peppers on an oiled baking sheet and “roast” under the broiler until the skin is well charred and the peppers tender. Remove from baking sheet, place in a plastic or paper bag and cool. Once cooled, remove peppers from bag, peel skin, remove seeds and cut stem.
2 cups chickpeas (if using canned, rinse chickpeas and drain or if using dried, soak chickpeas in water overnight, drain, then simmer about two hours until tender)
Place first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and mix. Add the olive oil a little at a time, processing until the mixture is smooth (adding more olive oil as necessary). Season with salt and pepper to taste.