Savory Mediterranean Inspired Dips

Over the past year, when parties have been more of a memory of simpler times than present reality, I have reminisced and scratched the itch for a snack meal by making my favorite crackers and savory, Mediterranean-inspired dips—a briny, salty tapenade and a fresh and bright yogurt dip. Now, as we start to emerge from our pandemic cocoons and entertain guests again, I realize that there is something better than an unapologetic snack meal, and it is an evening spent surrounded by loved ones.

But that evening can and should still include snacks aplenty.

• 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 6-8 whole anchovies, packed in oil
• 4 large cloves of garlic
• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbsp + 1.5 tsp capers, plus more for garnish
• 1.5 cups kalamata olives (black olives will work in a pinch), finely chopped
• Coarse black pepper, to taste
• Chopped fresh parsley, optional

*Note: for a coarser tapenade, this recipe can be made by hand, though I prefer to make it with a blender or food processor to achieve a creamier consistency

1. Use a mortar and pestle, blender, or food processor to combine lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, and olive oil until emulsified
2. Add capers and 3/4 of the olives and mix until well-combined. Fold in the last of the olives to add a bit of texture
3. Transfer to a serving bowl or ramekin, then top with a generous drizzle of olive oil, extra capers, black pepper, and parsley, if desired, and serve with crackers or crusty bread
4. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for 5 days

Yogurt dip with Garlic + Tomato confit:
• 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
• 5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
• 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1.5 cups plain whole milk Greek yogurt (Cabot yogurt is more savory, so it is my go-to brand)
• 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
• 2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced or julienned, plus more for garnish
• 3/4 tsp sea salt
• 1 clove garlic

*Note: the garlic + tomato confit can be made in advance and kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Also, it is delicious on everything.

1. Combine tomatoes and sliced garlic in a small, walled baking dish (like a loaf pan), sprinkle with the teaspoon of sea salt, drench with olive oil, then place uncovered in an oven preheated to 325oF and bake for 60-90 minutes until tomatoes are tender. Let cool
2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl until evenly incorporated, then transfer to a small serving bowl. Use a spoon to make a well in the center of the dip, and fill the well with the garlic + tomato confit (if the tomatoes are too large, chop them into small pieces). Top with cracked black pepper and extra basil, if desired
3. Dip keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days