There’s a Girl’s Weekend coming up for me and it’s not just ANY girl’s weekend. It’s the Ultimate Girl’s Weekend. What makes it ultimate and warrants a few capital letters? Not only will my besties, Dana and Andrea, be in attendance but their little sisters will be joining us! Yes! Can it get any better? It can! The little sister of another girl we grew up with will also be joining us. All the little sisters are lifelong friends. Keep in mind we grew up in the same neighborhood. Part of the finger islands, we lived side by side on parallel dead-end streets, each flanked by salt water canals known as the Venice of America. The three streets we grew up on ran in this order, Sea Island, Barcelona, and last, Aqua Vista. Our streets were connected by bridges. My older sister, along with Andrea’s and Bobbi’s, were in the same class as well. Good thing we like each other! So this Girl’s Weekend is going to be a pool time, sun time, cocktail time marathon. Just now, while I was in our pool, my thoughts drifted in the direction of poolside food packed with flavor and texture but low in fat and carbs. Something pretty and girly but not rabbit food. My mental conversation bounced back and forth in my head, mediterranean, I thought,… specifically Greek. All my favorite colors, flavors and textures layered and scooped up with a wedge of grilled pita? Oh, hell yes. Being in the sun and chlorine for hours with way too many cocktails being passed around, a girl needs plenty of sunscreen and healthful food loaded with protein, nutrients and water. Oh, and did I mention it absolutely must be sexy, gorgeous, tantalizing food? Well, it does. All assembled, this dip/salad is a welcome munchie during a time when disaster could easily sabotage a girl’s diet. A thick layer of hummus slathered with an equally thick layer of tzatziki topped with artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, peppers and red onion finished off with Kalamata olives, feta, fresh mint, and a dusting of grated lemon zest. Wait! I forgot to tell you about the pistachios tossed on top. This dip is simply eye rolling good… every bite better than the previous. With a cooling platter of watermelon, a pretty, little bowl of roasted mixed nuts, this mega-layer Greek dip is all these girls need. Lunch.Is.Served.
Y’all, this might be the best thing I’ve EVER put together. Omg, these flavors, though. And the crunch factor is out of this world plus who doesn’t love an appetizer or meal you can prep in advance? Yeah. We do. Both the hummus and tzatziki can be made in advance or, if you have a favorite brand, store bought. If you’re making you own pita chips, and I recommend you do that as it’s much cheaper, they can be prepared then stored in airtight containers until ready to be served. I don’t typically purchase English cucumber as I find them highly overpriced. I do, however, buy conventional cukes and run a spoon through the channel of seeds in the middle. Voila. Seedless cucumbers for a fraction of the price. Obviously it’s your decision but I only use organic peppers. There are far too many carcinogens sprayed on them to justify buying conventional. All the vegetables can be washed and chopped, dropped into bowls or bags and tossed into the refrigerator until you need them. If there is any component to this dish you don’t care for, well, hey! Lose it. Add more or less of whatever you like. There is no right or wrong way to put this dish together. If you plan on making the tzatziki be certain the yoghurt you choose is super thick. I suggest Fage Greek yoghurt. Whole, reduced fat or fat free are all terrific. I highly recommend Kalamata olives, whole. They can be pitted or with pits but I don’t recommend already sliced. I tried them recently and, y’all… they were some kind of nasty. Like pure vinegar. Just a thought. If you’re not up to grilling the pita bread, simply brush on a light coating of olive oil, dust each round with salt and pepper and toast until barely colored. Stack as many toasted pita rounds as you’re using, cut in halves, then quarters and finally eighths. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over the triangles… maybe hit them with a blast of fresh mint leaves and munch away on this fabulous dish.
Greek Mega Layer Dip
- 1 1/2 cups hummus
- 1 1/2 cups tzatziki
- 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained well and cut in bite size pieces
- 4 Greek peperoncini, stemmed, quartered and patted dry
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 1/2-1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup organic bell pepper, chopped, any color you like
- 1 handful shelled pistachio nuts
- 1 handful fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup HAND crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese, I always use Vigo brand sold in the dairy section of your grocery store
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- freshly cracked black pepper
- pita chips to serve
- Slather hummus in a thick layer over your serving platter leaving one inch to a half inch border.
- Dollop tzatziki over hummus. Without mixing the two, spread tzatziki evenly over the hummus.
- Place the artichoke hearts evenly over the tzatziki followed by the peperoncini, olives then grape tomatoes. Gently press the vegetables into the spreads.
- Scatter the onions, cucumbers and bell peppers evenly over the tomatoes.
- Top vegetables with feta cheese you crumbled by hand, pistachio nuts and mint leaves.
- Carefully add little bits of lemon zest all over. The zest tends to clump and stick to your fingers. Just take your time when placing it. The lemon zest adds an enormous amount of flavor so try not to skip it.
- Dust with freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately with pita chips.