This weekend sort of got away from me. We flew to the East Coast for Jeff’s college reunion which meant a red eye flight; perhaps the most effective way to screw up your sleep cycle. Then we spent the next few days wandering around campus in the rain, spending time with friends, dancing. We celebrated, stayed up to the wee hours of the morning laughing and chatting, felt nostalgic about college. It was lovely.
It was also stressful. From this side, I can see how disorganized and messy my life was in college. In the moment it felt like we had everything under control but after a weekend of reminiscing it’s clear that we ate poorly, stayed up late working on projects that we’d failed to plan out, made decisions that if we didn’t regret, we at least wouldn’t make again. It was everything college should be but at the same time, I’m glad I’ve gotten myself together since then. So I escaped on Sunday morning and went home.
My parents live an easy drive from Jeff’s college and I spent most of Sunday hanging out on the couch, reading, almost-napping, watching bad TV. I rested. It wasn’t quite enough to undo the damage done over the weekend, but it was enough to get the energy to make this dip for a Memorial Day barbecue. Although, to be fair, this dip doesn’t take much effort.
For holidays growing up, dip meant either french onion (from the Lipton package) or Mexican 7 layer. I loved making the seven layer dip, sprinkling and spreading everything into place. I insisted on making it for years, making a whole tray when it was just four people celebrating. This year, it got taken off the menu. Refried beans became hummus and sour cream became tzatziki. There was more lemon and more fresh herbs and less iceberg lettuce (although it still has a place in my heart, and my table, just not in this dip). The sun even came out on Monday so we enjoyed this on the sunny deck, greedily scooping it up with pita chips. If it’s any indication of how this summer will be, I’m looking forward to it.
Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip
Makes an appetizer for about 10; fills a 10 inch round pan
There are a couple of spreads that are incorporated into this dip to help hold it together – hummus, tzatziki, tabouli. This time I used storebought for the hummus and tabouli and made the tzatzki but in the future any of those could be homemade or easily found at the store. Choose your own adventure.
1 cup hummus
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup peperoncini, stems removed and roughly chopped (you could remove the seeds if you want but it wasn’t too spicy with them)
1 cup tzaziki *
1/2 cup each, tomato and cucumber, cut into a medium-sized dice
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup tabouli
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives (optional, I left them out)
In a medium bowl combine the peppers and peperoncini and set aside. In another bowl combine the tomato, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, and one teaspoon of salt. Let those bowls sit for about 15 minutes to let the flavors combine.
This part is more of a method than a recipe. This is how I did it: in a 10-inch round or an 8 by 8 brownie pan, spread out the hummus. Strain any liquid from the red pepper mixture and spread it out next. Then add the layer of tzatziki and strain and spread the tomato-cucumber mixture on top of that. Next is the layer of tabouli and finally the feta cheese. Sprinkle the olives on top if you’re using them. You can eat the composed dip right away, with pita chips, crackers, or vegetable sticks, or cover it and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Don’t assemble it more than a few hours in advance, the chopped layers are juicy and will weep if you leave them too long.
The feta and olive should likely be on top and it would be difficult to spread something on top of the tabouli but the other four layers can go in any order, keeping in mind that spreads and chopped layers should be separated to enhance the textural contrast.
* My homemade version was 1/2 cup shredded cucumber which I squeezed in a towel to get out the excess liquid, 3/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 clove garlic finely chopped, 1 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp dried dill. Everything was mixed together in a bowl and then allowed to sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld.