The previous month has been quite busy. Launch of a cookbook is first. I never imagined that day would arrive. Then came a girls’ night out to celebrate, my grandmother’s birthday in Oklahoma, Ali’s bachelorette party, Memorial Day, Jordan’s baby shower, Ali’s stunning wedding, and another girls’ night out (shown here).
The hours are long, and I have additional travel scheduled for this year and the year after. It has been incredibly healing to catch up and celebrate with loved ones. I’m both excited for another reason to go dancing after all those parties and looking forward to more cozy nights in with Cookie. Kate is prepared to take on the world after the cookbook.
Believe it or not, I continued to feel anxious about cooking for people in person for years after I started sharing recipes on this blog. Before someone took the first mouthful, I used to have butterflies of anxiety. Maybe you have experienced this.
I’m so eager to make up for lost time now that the book is finally finished that I’m essentially paying friends to come over so I can cook for them. I have a cookbook’s worth of meticulously tried-and-true new favorites to prepare for them.
But for this particular girls’ night, I created a brand-new dish. It combines two old recipes: this tomato basil salad, which was hardly a recipe but look at Cookie, and this baked Mediterranean feta dip (here’s a better version).
I was only going to make the dip again, but it wasn’t as amazing as I recalled. On a warm June day, I didn’t feel like turning on the oven once more, so I came up with this dish. This colorful, tasty, and easy-to-make tomato and feta dip is a must-try. It will undoubtedly replace the avocado, spinach, and artichoke dip from the book as my go-to summer party appetizer.
Also read: Fresh Black Bean Salad
The foundation of any party I throw is a single dip and a ton of complimentary fresh fruit and vegetables. A cheese plate with crackers, some cookies, and stovetop popcorn are frequently added to the menu (Tessa brought over these chocolate chip cookies and they are insane).
And wine, naturally. Working with Bota Box this year excites me. Bota Box is wonderful, and it’s simply so simple. Wine in boxes hasn’t always been that great. Now, I usually keep chilled white wine or rosé in the fridge for last-minute get-togethers or a glass with a buddy on the terrace after a hard day. Since the wine is vacuum-sealed and keeps well for up to a month once opened, I don’t have to worry about it going bad. Additionally, recycling one box and bag is simpler than recycling four wine bottles because their packaging is 100% recyclable.
I paired their dry rosé, which is a very recent release, with this dip. On a warm day, it’s cooling, and it’s definitely dry (not too sweet). Strong summer flavors like tomatoes, olives, garlic, grilled vegetables, and herbs work well with dry rosé wines. Rosé pairs well with meals like fruit, pasta, and cheese that you might already connect with white wines. Their cool rosé served as the ideal complement to this warm dip. Please let me know how the wine and recipe turned out for you.
- 2 pints (4 cups) cherry tomatoes, quartered (I love a mix of red and yellow)
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (don’t buy pre-crumbled; buy a block of feta!)
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
Accompaniments: Toasted crostini or pita wedges, crusty bread, pita chips or sturdy crackers…
- Combine the quartered tomatoes and sliced olives on a large serving platter or in a medium-sized serving bowl. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and pepper. Whisk until blended. Drizzle all of the mixture over the tomatoes and olives, and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle the crumbled feta and chopped basil over the tomatoes. Gently toss a few times to combine. Serve immediately, with accompaniments of your choice. This dip is best when fresh, since the tomatoes continue to release their juices over time, but leftovers (covered and chilled) are still good for a day or two.