PARTNER POST: May 26 is National Pinot Grigio Day. We’re celebrating with Cavit Wines by sharing refreshing spring and summer recipes that pair perfectly with Pinot Grigio.
This savory garlic feta dip is spiced with za’atar and perfect with summer vegetables.
Whipped feta. I first heard of the phenomenon from the great Ina Garten.
I love feta and I love most things whipped (cream, butter, cream cheese), so how could whipped feta possibly be bad? It isn’t. It’s amazing. Ina was right. As always.
Lately, I’ve been on a huge za’atar kick. I make my own (it’s so easy) and I use it on everything. On hummus, roasted vegetables, flatbread, popcorn, and in Farro Breakfast Bowls.
How good is this stuff?
When I worked in New York City, I fortunately worked right next door to this amazing vegetarian Mediterranean restaurant. It was where I got lunch most days of the week. I started to notice that they sprinkled za’atar on just about everything they made. Greek salads, labneh-filled pita, falafels, you name it.
“What is this magical dust you sprinkle on everything?” I asked the chef one day.
“Bring me a cupcake tomorrow, and I’ll show you how to make it.” He responded, most definitely not kidding.
The next day, he got a few cupcakes and I got a lesson on some amazing traditional Mediterranean cooking.
Za’atar is very simple to make. Just sea salt, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, and sumac. The most difficult aspect is that it can sometimes be hard to find sumac, but most Middle Eastern grocers and natural markets carry it.
Roasted garlic and lemon is a match made in heaven for za’atar and feta. It plays on sumac’s distinct lemony-tart flavor profile.
I make a really simple roasted garlic oil for the dip. Then, feta and a bit of cream cheese get whipped together with the infused olive oil until creamy. Finally, black pepper, fresh lemon zest, and the za’atar get stirred in.
You could add fresh herbs if you wanted to, but you definitely don’t need to.
My mom deemed this Za’atar Roasted Garlic Feta Dip the best dip she’s ever had, and I might just have to agree.
This Za’atar Roasted Garlic Feta Dip was created to celebrate National Pinot Grigio Day on May 26th. This is actually the first National Pinot Grigio Day, brought to us by Cavit wines, who introduced the variety to the United States in 1977 from Italy. Cavit’s Pinot Grigio is delicious, affordable, and the perfect summer wine. The refreshing, balanced wine is lightly sweet with a fruity profile of green apple and citrus flavors.
And Pinot Grigio pairs especially well with fresh, soft cheeses such as feta. The crisp white wine balances the salty cheese, and the citrus flavor in Pinot Grigio pairs particularly well with this lemon-scented dip.
Serve Za’atar Roasted Garlic Feta Dip with anything you’d like, really. I love serving it in the center of a large crudite platter, filled with pretty much anything I found that morning at the farmer’s market. For this platter, I included: endive, sweet peppers, toybox tomatoes, cucumber, grilled artichoke hearts, Greek olives, rainbow carrots, and rosemary flatbread. Beets, radishes, figs, grapes, and squash blossoms would all also be lovely.
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Or, buy it. See notes.
- 6 garlic cloves, halved
- ¼ cup quality olive oil
- 6 ounces feta, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- 3 tablespoons garlic oil, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons za’atar, plus more for serving
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, optional
- Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small oven-safe pan, combine the peeled, halved garlic cloves and the olive oil. The oil should cover the cloves. Roast until the garlic is just golden, about 13-15 minutes. Let the garlic oil cool completely in the pan, and then strain and discard the cloves. You will have 4 tablespoons of garlic oil, 3 for the recipe and 1 for drizzling.
- Whiz the feta in a food processor until very small bits remain. Add in the garlic oil and cream cheese and process until very smooth and creamy. Be sure that your feta and cream cheese are at room temperature. Season with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Remove the feta dip from the processor and into a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, za’atar, and chopped fresh parsley (if using; to taste).
- Garnish the dip with the additional tablespoon of garlic oil and a sprinkling of za’atar. Serve immediately with your favorite vegetables or crackers.
If making the dip ahead of time, allow the feta dip to come to room temperature before serving.