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Best dips/spreads for pitas and crackers?

So my neighbors have enlisted my help cooking for their daughter's college graduation party. Grilled salmon for the entree, and I'm in charge of dips and spreads for pita and crackers. I'm making hummus for sure, but what else? There will be about 30 guests, mostly college-aged, so it need not be very fancy!

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    1. have you thought about baba ghanouj or an olive tapenade?

      1 Reply
      1. re: pmody

        Seconded- also add tabbouleh, and lebne (with dill and walnuts) to the list.

      2. Blend up feta with garlic and roasted red peppers (the jar peppers are OK but drain them first). Another winner is to spread cream cheese on a heat-proof pie plate (I use Pyrex) about 1/2 inch thick. Cover cream cheese with a spicy marinara (add some red pepper flakes to the jar stuff) and then shredded parmesean. Bake till parmesean bubbles. Or, start with the cream cheese and top with chopped artichoke hearts, garlic, dill and parmesean cheese. A spicy black bean dip is always good. I use canned black beans. Once, as a huge cheat, I bought that ooey gooey creamed spinach from Boston Market, put it in my own crock and heated it as "spinach dip." It was a huge hit!

        1. In addition to the great suggestions above, two of my favorites for pita: Muhammara (roasted red peppers and walnuts)

          Recipe link and pic:
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37607...

          and Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt/dill):
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38706...

          This is easy and always a winner for crackers/crudites. I just made it last week again.
          Sun-dried tomato dip
          http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

          Finally, for blue-cheese lovers, this is so good and gets many requests (I like to use St. Agur blue):
          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

          5 Replies
          1. re: Rubee

            Took a look at your linked recipe for muhammara. I'd suggest going easier on the pomegranate molasses. I made a quart and a half for a party last weekend, and the three teaspoons (not tablespoons) I added for that large quantity was a little too much in the balance for me. I added more salt to try to mask the excess sweetness. Luckily, as it has aged, it tastes less sweet to me.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Hi Melanie,

              Thanks, great point! I think some brands are sweeter than others. I remember reading that some use "American" pomegranates which are sweeter than the tart Middleastern variety. The Al-Wadi brand I use is definitely more puckery tang than sweet, and IIRC, not too sweet when I used the full amounts for the recipes in "Arabesque" when that was Cookbook of the Month (which is why I originally needed the molasses).

              I like this one from Lebanon:
              Alwadi al Akhdar
              http://www.cubemarketplace.com/p-416-...

              1. re: Rubee

                I was happy just to find ANY brand of pomegranate molasses at the super in Salinas, CA. I bought Cortas, which is also from Lebanon. I wish I had tasted it first before mixing it in, this one is really sweet and not that tangy.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yes, I lucked out - I was out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. I somehow mentioned pomegranate molasses in talking to the chef and when I said I was having a hard time finding some, he went into the kitchen and kindly brought me out a bottle. Now....how to find some locally when I run out ; )

                  1. re: Rubee

                    I love that dip- I didn't realize that was what it was called. We've just reduced pomegranate juice to make the syrup- probably not quite the same, but still really tasty. My mom made Ellie Krieger's recipe, and I just really loved it at first bite!

            1. Baba ghannouj, chipotle or roasted red pepper hummus, cheese ajvar, white bean dip with garlic, broccoli guacamole, zhoug.

              1. The black olive and sundried tomato tapenade from Moosewood Celebrates is a good party dip as is any kind of herb cheese. My favorite is the herb cream cheese from the Frog/Commissary cookbook.

                1. Roasted Eggplant Dip (omg), Hummus, Artichoke Dip, Smoked Salmon Dip.

                  1. These all sound great! Do any of you have recipes you could paraphrase? The olive tapenade would be good to accompany the hummus, I think.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: icecreamgal

                      I've made this olive and artichoke tapenade before and it's really tasty.

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                    2. Hot Garlicky Artichoke Dip. period, easy and delicious and my recipe makes alot!
                      There are so many good recipes here:http://www.chowhound.com/topics/443265

                      1. so simple and delish is one of my favs - cream cheese block with a nice pepper jelly over it.

                        Pita chips are great with a nice salsa mixed with sour cream.

                          1. Carrot puree with harissa -- my favorite of the trio of pita spreads at a local spot, but not something I've tried at home yet. Seems super simple and is a standout even next to a top-shelf tapenade and/or hummus.

                            This recipe looks about right:
                            http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.b...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: AbeFroman

                              I made something very similar with Curry Paste and Carrots - fantastic:

                              Peel and grate 3 carrots. Take 1 onion (finely chopped), the carrots, orange juice (from 2 oranges) and 1 TBL hot curry paste in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 10 min. Process the mixture in blender til smooth, leave to cool. Stir in 2/3 cup plain yogurt and handful of basil leaves (torn small). Add 2 TBL fresh lemon juice, hot sauce (to taste) and salt and pepper. (I didn't add the hot sauce but tad more curry paste). We dipped whole grain tortillas and crackers - sooooo tasty.

                              1. re: lexpatti

                                Ooh, nice. I'm gonna have to try this one out! Anything special about the variety of basil -- Thai or otherwise?

                                1. re: AbeFroman

                                  Nope! Just market basket :-) I had it on a sandwich yesterday, very nice. But me thinks if it were the base of a nice plate of shrimp or scallops, maybe nicer! But then again, shrimp & scallops with anyting is nice.

                              2. re: AbeFroman

                                Smoky Roasted Carrot Dip ---

                                I tried something that ended up really smoky and delicious. I played around with a couple of recipes and ended up with this --

                                1. I drizzled a bunch of carrots, one quartered red onion, skin on, a head of garlic with a couple Tbsp olive oil, plus a teaspoon cumin seeds and roasted 375 for 40 minutes.

                                2. Then I blended the roasted onion, carrot, garlic (squeezed out the roasted cloves) with a few Tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp (this was WAY too much b/c my paprika is really potent) smoky paprika and another tsp cumin. I must have been in a spicy mood b/c I think I even added a little Aleppo chile :)

                                3. This was absolutely divine but really overwhelmingly spicy, so I added sour cream to soften the flavor.

                                Couldn't stop eating it. I will make this again and again! Excellent as a sandwich spread! I do think roasting the carrots enhances the flavor.

                                I like the idea of lexpatti's recipe with the basil and lemon. Interesting flavors!

                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                  Must.Try.This. (but I need more info) FF, would you say you used 1 pound of carrots? Did you slice them up or just cut into large chunks to roast them? Thanks!

                              3. Another tapenade-type of recipe that someone brought in to a work buffet and we went crazy over it:

                                Artichoke and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

                                Use this tapenade as a quick way to dress up pasta or bruschetta.

                                1 jar (6 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts
                                6 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
                                1 small garlic clove, pressed
                                2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
                                1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
                                1/8 teaspoon salt

                                1. Drain Artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes using small colander.  Place artichokes , tomatoes, garlic pressed  with garlic presser, pine nuts, parsley and salt on cutting board; finally chop together.
                                Yield:12 servings

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Val

                                  This sounds really good. I'm going to file it away for next time I have people over. Thanks!

                                  1. re: Val

                                    I made this tapenade after reading about it on this thread and, although it was a hit at the time, I haven't made it since for whatever reason.

                                    Anyway, last night I made it again and served with with pita chips and my friends could not get enough of it! Really, people were raving. As the host, I rarely eat anything when people are at my house, but after they left, I snarfed down what little was left! It was a good thing I doubled the recipe.

                                    1. re: valerie

                                      glad it worked for you, other-val...hee! haven't made this in a while either and need to revisit, it IS so good but best with lots of friends!

                                      1. re: Val

                                        the name tapenade implies that the dish has capers. does this recipe have capers in the original recipe, perhaps?

                                        my sister loves the sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. i'll be sure and share this with her. she likes quick and delicious cocktail-time snacks. thanks for sharing, miss val.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          hi, 'pal! hmmm...nope, no capers and I've also read that tapenades "should" contain anchovies too...nope, none in there...but you could add them I'm sure...I think co-worker said this came from Pampered Chef booklet but we didn't care, we all loved it.

                                          1. re: Val

                                            Maybe not a true tapenade, but my friends were still talking about it today!

                                            1. re: valerie

                                              i have no doubt that it is tasty. i just wouldn't call it a tapenade, that's all.

                                              >>>>>tapenade
                                              Provençal dish made of black olives, etc., from Fr. tapénade, from Prov. tapéno "capers."<<<< http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?t...

                                    2. re: Val

                                      I've made this several times and it's always a hit whenever I bring it to a party. Making it again tomorrow (so I was looking for the recipe) and thought I would comment.

                                    3. weighing in for the "knorr's spinach vegetable dip in bread bowl" caucus:
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/480147 you don't have to use the bread bowl, but you'd be missing out...

                                      double your recipe -- at least!

                                      and use the whole tender scallion -- not just the white bulbous end.

                                      some suggest adding cilantro for a variation.

                                      1. TOFU DIP>>>
                                        and you cannot tell it doesn't have cheese in it..

                                        Firm tofu It has less water. 1 block
                                        1/4 cup sunflower seeds
                                        a table spoon olive oil
                                        basil or coriander
                                        fresh garlic to taste

                                        process sunflower seeds til ground.Add garlic and herbs with oil ..Process til smooth but not liquid. . Add tofu and process til smooth..

                                        This can also be used as a dressing if you thin out with oil!!!

                                        1. this is embarassingly easy but is always a hit.

                                          take one block of cream cheese and slice it into two layers, like you would a cake. (helps to freeze it slightly first) spread wasabi paste on the bottom, top with the other piece of cream cheese. coat with toasted sesame seeds (check your jar, sometimes they are already toasted, others you ahve to do yourself in a small skillet) when ready to serve, drizzle generously with soy sauce and serve with rice crackers.

                                          spicy, creamy, salty and crunchy.....it's the best!

                                          1. Kicked Up Hummus Dip

                                            This recipe has a few more ingreidents than the average
                                            Hummus, but I think it tastes so much better!

                                            1 (15oz) can Chick Peas, drained - rinsed (save 2 Tbs chick pea juice)
                                            2 Tbs chick pea juice
                                            4 Tbs lemon juice (fresh or bottled OK)
                                            2 Tbs lime juice (fresh or bottled OK)
                                            2 Tbs olive oil
                                            2 Tbs Tahini paste
                                            2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp crushed garlic from jar)
                                            1 tsp granulated garlic powder
                                            1 tsp toasted sesame oil
                                            1/2 tsp ground cumin
                                            1/2 tsp ground corriander
                                            dash cayenne pepper
                                            2 dashes ground black pepper
                                            salt to taste

                                            Place in food processer. Blend until smooth.
                                            Serve with crackers, pita bread, tortilla chips, etc.

                                            1. Shrimp dip always goes over well with that crowd. The kind with cream cheese, cocktail sauce, mayo... or even simpler where you spread cream cheese on a plate then cocktail sauce over that and baby shrimp on top of that.

                                              1. " .... 30 guests, mostly college-aged .... "

                                                Cheez Whiz ?

                                                Oh, just kidding ! :-D

                                                A friend of mine once made a caramelized onion w. finely-shredded BBQ pull pork "dip". OMG it was to die for.

                                                1. So I catered a small event a couple of days ago and I needed something extra on my cheese tray. I mixed together a container of alouette crème de brie, container of alouette garlic & herbs spreadable cheese, and a container of boursin tomato & basil spreadable cheese.

                                                  I spooned it all in a bowl lined with a piece of plastic wrap with chopped celery leaves. Folded the plastic over it all and refrigerated an hour. Later when it was turned out in addition to sliced cheddar, smoked gouda & pepperjack and surrounded by assorted crackers & baked pita chips, it was the first thing to go. I'd say that's a hit.