Lately, Maine has been feeling like the South with its heat and humidity. Blerg. We’re talking sitting-pantless-in-the-living-room-eating-popsicles hot and humid. It’s miserable! And when it’s that hot, the last thing I want to do is cook. That’s how this Feta Dip with Dates and Honey-Candied Walnuts was born.
In our house, we call it “eating European” (dubbed by my husband). It’s better known as a mezze spread in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Small plates or appetizers And It’s a perfect time to eat European when it’s hot out or you just don’t feel like cooking.
Our spreads usually have olives, pickled-things, cheese, crackers or bread, nuts, fresh and dried fruit, and some smoky meat on the board. There may or may not be a bowl of Doritos occasionally — which definitely isn’t “eating European”. It’s a clean-out-your-cabinets-and-fridge kind of thing.
This particular dip has nuts, fruit, and cheese all in one with the carbs coming into play with the dipping vehicle.
We have a killer bakery in Portland called Ameera Bread. Their pita, naan, and other flat breads are made fresh daily. The slightly-charred airy pockets paired with the soft, chewiness of the dough will bring you to your knees it’s so good. If you’re not lucky enough to live in Portland or in another city with delicious bread, a baguette will work just fine. Don’t have a baguette? Try Triscuits. They’re always my cracker of choice. Celery is good, too!
The Cast: Feta Dip with Dates and Honey-Candied Walnuts
Salty, briny feta
Sweet and spicy spicy honey-roasted walnuts
Herby, floral Herbs de Provence
Smooth, peppery olive oil
And if you can’t find Herbs de Provence, use lavender, rosemary, or thyme (or any combo of the three).
- 8 oz block of feta cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 5 large, squishy dates, diced
- 1 tsp. Herbs de Provence
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Fresh herb to garnish (fresh thyme or mint works well)
- For the Honey-Candied Walnuts
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon butte
- Fresh mint, chopped (to garnish)
- For Honey-Candied Wanuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Take ½ cup of walnuts and chop roughly into pieces. Leave the other ½ cup whole.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add honey and cayenne once butter has melted, stirring until well-combined. Add walnuts, stirring to coat with the honey butter.
- Let cook 2 minutes, or until honey-butter mixture starts to pull away from the pan and bubble around the walnuts.
- Take off of heat and spread on a sheet pan covered with parchment.
- Bake walnuts for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Season with a dusting of salt. Enjoy by themselves or on salads, dips, etc.
- For the Feta Dip
- Roughly crumble feta in the bowl of a food processor. Add the olive oil, honey, and lemon juice. Pulse 6-8 times or until feta is uniform size and somewhat creamy on the bottom. If you want a creamier dip, continue to pulse, adding 1 Tbsp. of olive oil at a time until it is the consistency you want.
- Wth a spatula, transfer feta to a medium sized bowl. Stir in dates and Herbs de Provence. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature for flavors to marry. Top with Honey-Candied Walnuts and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with fresh bread and crackers.