Ben’s mom is not really into cooking.  She certainly does a fine job when she decides to do it, but she just doesn’t enjoy it the way some people do.  I’m happy cooking, she’s happy eating what I make, and it’s an ideal situation for both of us.  However, there is one dish she is known for among family and friends: her layered tex-mex dip.  You know what I’m talking about – a layer of refried beans, a layer of spiced sour cream/mayo, etc. topped with lots of cheese, tomatoes, green onions, etc.  I’m not alone in saying that I am positively crazy about her tex-mex.  She brings it along nearly every time she comes over and I never complain because, dude, I love that stuff.  (And I know this sounds crazy but try as I might, it never comes out quite the same when I make it.)

Anyway, I saw this layered Greek dip and was instantly taken with the idea.  So brilliant, to take the concept of a layered dip and apply a Greek flavor profile.  Why didn’t I think of this?  I’m just glad someone did.  Ben’s parents came over a few weeks ago and when they offered to bring a tex-mex, for maybe the first time ever I said we would skip it because I had something new to try.  This dip is so, so awesome.  Between four adults and one kid, we cleaned the plate over the course of a couple hours.  And unlike with tex-mex, I didn’t feel nearly as guilty about filling up on this stuff.  You can definitely customize this to suit your tastes.  I used oven-dried tomatoes because I am increasingly in love with them, but you could also use sun-dried tomatoes or even just halved cherry or grape tomatoes.  Kalamata olives would be the natural choice for a Mediterranean dip but we don’t like them, so I opted for black olives instead.  The quantities you need for each topping will depend on your preferences and how large your serving platter is.  I have a feeling this will become another family staple for us and we might be seeing a little less tex-mex in our future.  As much as I love tex-mex, I’m not even sad about that.

Ingredients

For the cilantro pesto:
1½ cups fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. pecans
2 tbsp. pine nuts
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To assemble the dip:
Hummus
Cilantro pesto (above)
Cucumber, seeded and diced
Red onion, diced
Banana peppers, chopped
Sliced olives (black or Kalamata)
Crumbled feta cheese
Oven-dried tomatoes

Directions

  • 01

    To make the cilantro pesto, combine the cilantro, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, pecans, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse repeatedly until a coarse paste forms.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth.  Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan.  (If storing for later use, drizzle with a thin film of olive oil, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto, and store in an airtight container.)

  • 02

    To assemble the dip, spread a layer of hummus on a serving platter.  Spread the cilantro pesto over the top of the hummus.  Layer evenly with cucumber, red onion, banana peppers, olives, feta, and oven-dried tomatoes as desired.  Garnish with an additional few tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro.  Serve with pita chips.

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