Mediterranean Spreads for Flatbread

Los Angeles has a distinctively Mediterranean climate, the mild, balmy weather allowing for indoor-to-outdoor events even during the winter. Pool parties and outdoor concerts are held year round, and being the land of the promoters, usually a great band can be had in L.A. for a song.

And of course you don’t need to be in the city to enjoy food and music; it is readily available throughout the region. On weekends the house bands will often clash as the sound of fun echos through and around the canyons. Whether the party is planned carefully or erupts spontaneously as people gather, rarely is there a shortage of musicians willing to play along.

Carb-friendly breads and spreads not only adapt well to such a venue, they are easy on the waist and the guilt. Whether you are gathering for an indoor lounge night or a networking patio concert, you will find this appetizer to be a natural centerpiece for the table to share. I recommend using flatbread over pita because it is sturdier for holding the dips, and when you grill it the outside will be charred to a satisfying crunch while the inside remains light and airy.

Hummus

2 16oz. cans chickpeas/garbanzos
½ cup liquid from can
¾ cup fresh lemon juice or to taste
3 tablespoons tahini
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil

Drain chickpeas and set aside can liquid. Combine remaining ingredients in food processor. Add the can liquid and blend for another 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed. It should be very light and creamy.

Tapenade

½ lb pitted mixed olives, mostly black
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
3 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the olives in cool water and place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process to combine, stopping to scrape the sides, until the mixture becomes a chunky course texture, approximately 1-2 minutes in total.

Tzatziki

1 cup Greek yogurt (or regular strained)
½ cup sour cream
Juice of ½ lemon
Small clove garlic, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded & diced
½ tablespoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon chopped fresh dill
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise; take a small spoon and scrape out the seeds. Slice cucumbers, put in a colander, sprinkle on the kosher salt and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel. In food processor, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill and pepper. Process until blended and then mix together with yogurt and sour cream. Add additional salt if needed and place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.

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