Eating dairy/soy/whatever-else free is really tough when it comes to parties or get togethers with friends. We tend to gather around food so coming up with a list of appetizers and snacks has been really important to me. I try to bring one or more “safe” items so there is something I can munch on, but I also want it to be something everyone else will enjoy. One of the positives to this ongoing food challenge is that I’ve found some great new recipes that have been big hits in our house and at parties. One of my favorites is Tomato Caper Spread.
The inspiration for this appetizer was actually from an Anthony Bourdain show. I don’t remember where he was, but someone on the show with him made this dip, causally throwing things into a food processor and the end result blew Anthony Bourdain’s mind. When I realized there was no dairy in dip, I quickly wrote down the basic ingredients: bread, garlic, red wine vinegar, tomato paste and capers. I tucked it away in my recipe files to experiment with later.
One afternoon before I was supposed to have people over for dinner, I pulled the notes out and decided to see what I could come up with. I literally threw all the ingredients I’d seen in the show in the food processor and whipped it up. The resulting dip/spread was fantastic and unique. I’ve made it over and over and even though it changes a bit each time, it is alway delicious. The bread in the recipe gives the dip some body. The red wine vinegar, capers, garlic and tomato are the big flavors with emphasis on the garlic and tomato. The olive oil smooths it out and makes it spreadable or dipable.
Every time I make this and take it somewhere, at least one person asks me for the recipe. Coming up with a “recipe” has been tough because I make it a little different every time and add things to taste. I vary the bread I use in it, usually any safe bread I can find. I’ve used pitas, french bread, challah bread, and often whole wheat bagels I had stashed in the freezer. I also vary the amount of garlic I use. The garlic flavor seems to intensify after sitting a few minutes and the flavors have a chance to mingle a bit. I usually start with one medium clove of garlic and if its needs more I use a sprinkle of garlic powder instead of throwing in a whole other clove. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients.
I serve the dip with some type of bread or cracker. My favorites are crostini- little slices of bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted on each side in the oven, or pita bread cut into triangles and baked until slightly crunchy. In a pinch I use Back to Nature whole wheat crackers.
Tomato Caper Spread
About 1 cup of safe bread, torn into large chunks
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium clove of garlic
1/2 tube of tomato paste
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic Powder -optional -to taste
Place the chunks of bread in the bowl of a food processor and sprinkle with the red wine vinegar. Then add the garlic clove, tomato paste, and capers. Pulse the food processor 5 times and then continue to process until all the ingredients are combined. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed. Slowly add olive oil through the feed tube/hole in the top of the food processor until the dip becomes a smooth spreadable consistency. The amount needed will vary depending on the type of bread used so just stop and check the dip. (Try spreading it on a cracker. If it is crumbly and difficult to spread, continue to process and add more oil.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit 5 minutes. Taste and season with extra garlic if desired.
Serve with toasted pieces of bread, toasted pita wedges or crackers.