Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

I’m sure a lot of you are facing down the imminent onslaught of potluck backyard barbecues that are summer’s primary social activity. Those endless piles of hot dogs, burgers that are never quite pink enough or hot enough, endless parades of slaws and salads.

Inevitably, at these feasts, someone is charged with seven-layer dip. This stack of refried beans, cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and taco meat is designed as an easier way to serve a crowd than nachos; everyone can just scoop the contents with convenient tortilla chips. But it is also an appetizer that is heavy, often spicy, and occasionally a bit boring.

This Mediterranean-inspired version is a little bit lighter and fresher, and still comforting and familiar. Hummus, store bought or homemade, acts as the base. Topped with fresh vegetables and herbs, olives and a whipped feta, and served with sumac-dusted pita chips, it is a new take on an old favorite that just might become your signature party dish. It is also vegetarian, and you can easily make it vegan by spreading two layers of hummus instead of the feta spread.

Photo: Stacey Ballis

Mediterranean Seven-Layer Dip with Sumac Chips

Makes one large casserole dish to serve 10-12

  • 2 16 oz. tubs hummus
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced (you can substitute drained canned diced tomatoes if you can’t find good fresh ones)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large seedless cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup pitted olives, chopped coarsely
  • 8 oz. feta
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley mixed with 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 4 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 large bag pita chips
  • 1 Tbsp. sumac
Photo: Stacey Ballis

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In a food processor, blend the feta, cream cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth and fluffy. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.

In a large glass casserole dish, spread the hummus evenly over the bottom. Add the tomatoes in one layer, followed by the onions. Sprinkle with half the chopped herb mixture. Gently spoon the feta mixture over the top. Then layer on the cucumbers, followed by the olives. Top with the remaining herb mixture and the pine nuts.

To make sumac chips, just spread out your pita chips over a sheet pan, give a quick spray of olive oil or canola spray and sprinkle with the sumac, tossing to coat evenly.

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