My recipes make a sizeable shift at approximately the last week of August from salads and grill specialties to tailgate-ready appetizers. The start of football season brings opportunities to use the food processor to blend anything and everything until smooth. This year, though, I’ve been traveling later in the week and landing in our local airport later and later on Friday night. Although I’m a made-from-scratch enthusiast, I have had to scale back this year on the craftsmanship and turn up the creativity. I’m no semi-homemade fan, but I am a Razorback football fan, and I’d much rather settle in and watch College Gameday on Saturday morning after a week on the road than rush out to the grocery store (looking like a mess) and spend hours in the kitchen charring peppers and massaging kale.
I say all of that in typical Southern roundabout fashion to avoid the central thesis of this post: sometimes, you just need a quick recipe – and I’m growing more and more okay with that over time.
Before I get into the recipe, I’d like to make a few suggestions for freezer inventory for you busy home cooks out there (or you sleepy cooks, procrastinating cooks, cooks who just have lots of freezer space, etc.). Keeping at least two meat options in the freezer in individually portioned bags has saved me from grocery trips when I’m exhausted after a travel week. Knowing I can pull a bag out of the freezer to thaw overnight when I get in late and have a home-cooked dinner on the table the next night has been supremely satisfying. Sometimes when I get ambitious I even freeze portions with seasonings or marinades. In addition to protein, I always keep puff pastry and pie crusts on hand for when I need to show off but am not particularly enthused about doing so. Frozen spinach is another staple that has saved me in a pinch I found myself in last weekend, when I forgot that I volunteered to bring “a few dips” to a party the morning after flying in from a work trip.
Someone needs to come up with an app that prevents those of us that seem to be addicted to being overcommitted from texting phrases including but not limited to: “What can I bring?” “How about I bring an appetizer?” “Can I bring something? You know I love to cook!” “I’ll bring a dip – is that okay?”. Etc.
Spinach Hummus Feta Dip
For the dip, you will need:
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 package hummus, any flavor
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, plus more to serve
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Crispy chickpeas (recipe follows)
- To serve: carrot sticks, celery sticks, and pita chips
Blend together all ingredients until even texture. Cover and chill until ready to serve. When ready, top dip with an additional layer of feta and the crispy chickpeas.
You will need:
- 1 cup chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- Paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper – to taste
Heat oil to medium-high. Add garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add chickpeas and spices. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet and drain excess oil.