Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pita Bites

This Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pita Bite appetizer is everything!  There is a textural depth to these appetizers not to mention an incredible flavor!

The hummus is heavenly and creamy, which is the perfect contrast to the crunchy pita chips.  The feta adds a touch of saltiness while the lentils add the perfect bits of crunch!  Top it off with some pomegranate seeds and you have yourself an awesome appetizer for your next get-together!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pita Bites

This appetizer stirred up memories about how Robby and I first got together.  I don’t think I have told this story yet!  I came back to L.A. In October 2007 from Oregon and Robby came back in 2008 from Massachusetts.  We hadn’t seen each other since we were teenagers and we both showed up to our mutual good friend Christine’s house for dinner.  In the next few weeks Robby and I had gone on a few bike rides and the last time he came up to my tiny studio apartment for some water.  We started looking through old photos and he says he felt something, a spark all of a sudden, which he told me years later.  I felt it too but I ignored it thinking we were just old friends.  I called him a few times but never heard back.  It turned out that his mom had passed away and he needed to be alone.

Roasted-Red-Pepper-Hummus-Pita-Bites

A year went by and unfortunately our good friend George’s mom had just passed.  Robby and our friend Antonia drove down from Santa Cruz.  They had a conversation about relationships and Robby told her he was fine being by himself.  We all showed up to Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox church at the same time.  After the ceremony, everyone went across the street to a Greek restaurant Called “Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill and Catering”  We started off with Greek appetizers including hummus. Everything was phenomenal!  After everyone headed to the cemetery but me, I had to do some work and I met up with them later at the Moose Lodge.  I had a couple glasses of wine when our friend Christine said ” Steph, why don’t you and Robby get together? And I said, “because I didn’t consider it was an option since he never returned my phone calls.”

After a few cocktails, we all went to George’s house.  Antonia was going to be flying back to San Jose but everyone was guilt tripping her so she left to see if she could stay another night.  When she returned I was sitting on Robby’s lap.  It was pretty funny, Antonia was all “wait? what? I left for thirty minutes, what happened?  Well, as you can see the rest is history!

_Red-Pepper-Hummus-Bites

These cuties pair well with a light Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Albariño

or a White Rioja.

Hummus-Bites

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Bites Recipe:
48 Bites
  • 1/2 Cup or as needed Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – recipe below
  • 1/4 Cup Crispy Black Lentils – recipe below
  • 48 Pita Chips – recipe below
  • 1/4 Cup Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • 1/4 Cup Pomegranate seeds – or to taste
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar – reduced – optional
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – makes about 1 cup – for the whole recipe click here
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Garbanzo Beans – 3/4 Cups Cooked
  • 1 Small Red Bell Pepper – roasted – deseeded – destemmed
  • 1/4 Cup Roasted Tahini
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoons Chili Olive Oil – homemade or store-bought – can sub regular olive oil
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Hot Paprika (can sub for regular paprika)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Crispy Black Lentils – adapted from Life and Health – for the whole recipe click here

  • 1/4 Cup Black Lentils – cooked
  • 1 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch Sea Salt
 Pita Triangles
  • 8 Pita – cut into 6 wedges each
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano – minced – optional
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste

Balsamic Reduction

  • 1/2 Cup High-Quality Balsamic Vinegar
Instructions:
 Prepare garbanzo beans for the hummus
 You can cook the garbanzo beans two different ways: one is the quick way, the other is by soaking the beans overnight which is better for your digestion.  This is how I prepare them, plus if you are going to make falafels this is the way to go.

Place them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water, they will expand to over double their size, make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion.  Soak overnight for at least 12 hours then drain.

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Quick method

Place the beans in a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water above the beans and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the beans soak in the warm water for 1 hour then drain the water and rinse.

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Cooking the beans

If you want extra smooth hummus you can do as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi do from their cookbook “Jerusalem”  and remove the skins from the garbanzo beans.

Just add chickpeas and 1 teaspoons of baking soda to a large saucepan over high heat.  Stirring constantly for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Covers the chickpeas by about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes to 1 hours or until soft, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer.  Skim off the foam and skins that float to the surface.  They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.

or

Put the beans back in the pot and cover with several inches of filtered water.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until tender.  They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.

When the garbanzo beans are cooked and cooled, measure everything and put in a food processor or blender and puree until the desired texture.

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 Peppers

Roast peppers on the stovetop on medium-high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove. Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.

Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Slice in half and remove the seeds and stems then dice them.

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Crispy Black Lentils

Preheat oven to 400°F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl toss the lentils, oil and salt together then spread out on the parchment.
Roast lentils for 25 – 30 minutes, stir in between.  Roast until crunchy.  Watch them closely at the end so they don’t burn.  Let cool.
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Hummus
When the garbanzo beans are cooked and cooled, measure everything for the hummus and put in a food processor or blender and puree until the desired texture.
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Balsamic Reduction

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small pan and turn heat to medium-high then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally until it coats the back of your spoon.  Keep an eye on it because it can happen fast and burn.

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Baked Pita Chips
 Turn down the oven to 350 degrees

Cut each pita into 8 triangles and place on one side of a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and gently toss.  Sprinkle on the oregano and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until crispy.

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Assemble
Spoon a dollop of hummus onto each pita triangle then top with a little feta, pomegranate seeds and lentils.  Serve with a side dish of balsamic to let your guest drizzle over the top of each pita.  You will have about 1/2 cup of hummus leftover.  I usually make the whole recipe and extra pita chips for serving or for my snacking purposes.
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Health Benefits:

Garbanzo beans are super high in protein and extremely high in fiber, just one cup provides 50% of the Daily Value.  Because of the fiber, they are great for your heart, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack as well as help prevent constipation and digestive disorders.  Just one cup provides 84.5% of the daily value of manganese, which is an antioxidant that acts as a monitor of the free radicals in the body.  If you are low in energy the high iron content will help and will transport oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body.  They also help to balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Garbanzo beans are helpful for weight loss as they keep you full longer.

Red Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Stacked Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese and Feta Vinaigrette

This is a delicious and elegant salad.  This salad has that classic Greek salad flavors with some added juiciness from the feta vinaigrette and added texture from the halloumi cheese.

Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese

If you are into food blogs, you probably already know about the amazing blog “Adventures in Cooking” by Eva Kasmos Flores.  Eva recently traveled to Greece and while she was there, she posted and Snapchatted photos of Greek cats.  This sparked a fond memory of when I spent time on the Greek island of Crete.

My mom and I traveled to Greece to meet her then boyfriend Hal after we had just traveled through Asia.  The moment we arrived to the cute house in Crete where we planed to spend the week, a cat meandered into the house.  She hopped on my bed and started crawling under the covers.  I thought it was very cute.  She left shortly after and came back an hour later with a newborn kitten in her mouth. She jumped upon the bed and dropped the kitten and then left again.  Five hours had passed and still no sign of the mama cat.  We were starting to panic at this point and were thinking oh my God, she left us this kitten and she isn’t coming back.  My mom emptied one of her herbal tinctures and boiled some water to sterilize a dropper.  She sucked up some milk with the dropper and feed the tiny kitten.  Finally, the mama cat reappeared with yet another kitten.  She did this two more times. Yup, we had a total of four baby kittens and one mama cat living with us during our stay in Crete.  We fed the mama cat some fresh liver to give her some strength and also help her to feed the kittens more nutritious milk.  The mama cat and baby kittens were a lot healthier by the time we left. We told the people that we rented the house from about the cats and they said they would continue to look after them.  I still wonder whatever happened to them.

Stacked-Greek-Salad

This salad pairs well with a Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir or some Greek Ouzo.

Stacked-Greek-Salad.with-Feta-Vinaigrette

Greek Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese Recipe: 

4 serving

  • Feta Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 4 Oz. Halloumi Cheese – cut into tiny 1/4 inch cubes
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tomatoes – 8 slices thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cucumber – peeled – 24 slices thinly sliced
  • 1/2  Red Onion – thinly sliced into 4 rings or to taste
  • 10 Oz. Sheep Feta – 4 slices
  • Fresh Oregano – to taste

Feta Vinaigrette – 1 Cup

  • 1/4 Cup Sheep Feta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4  Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Oregano Pita Chips – (optional)

  • 2 or more Pita – cut into 12 wedges
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano – minced

Instructions:

Vinaigrette

Add garlic to a food processor or blender and mince.  Measure and add all other ingredients and blend well.

Halloumi

Rinse the halloumi and cut it into tiny 1/4 inch cubes.  Dry with paper towel.

Lightly drizzle some olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  I used a cast iron skillet. Some liquid will still come out while cooking, that is fine.

When the oil is hot, add the cubes of halloumi and cook for a few minutes to brown then flip the halloumi cubes with a spatula to brown on the other sides.  They don’t need to be browned on all sides, but they should be a nice golden color.  Set aside

Pita Chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roughly chop the oregano then cut each pita bread into quarters and each quarter into thirds to make 12 triangles.  Place them in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with olive oil and salt and gently toss.  Lay them on a baking sheet and sprinkle with oregano.  Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes or until crisp.

Assemble

While the pita chips are baking, prep all the vegetables.

First lay a tomato slice on a platter, small plate or shallow bowl, then top with 3 slices of cucumber, a piece of feta, a few oregano leaves, a couple rings or more of red onion, 3 more slices of cucumber and a slice of tomato.

Drizzle with the vinaigrette, sprinkle the halloumi on top and around the stacks and sprinkle on some oregano.

 If you like kalamata olives you can arrange some around the bottom of the stack.

 I like to serve this with my Greek Style Lemon Feta Roasted Potatoes.

Other recipes with Feta Vinaigrette – Roasted Vegetable Salad with Feta Vinaigrette  & Greek Style Quinoa Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

Stacked-Greek-Salad-w-Feta-Vinaigrette

Health benefits 

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes breaks down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zea-xanthin in them helps filtering harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.

Cucumber are a good source of A and B vitamins that gives you energy and the skin benefits from the really high content of vitamin C which ironically is primarily in the skin of the cucumber. They help eliminate toxins and keep you hydrated with the water content, which is 95% and the dietary fiber aids the digestion and helps with heartburn.  They are known to dissolve kidney stones by lowering uric acid levels. There is research in connection with reducing the risk of several cancers due to 3 lignin’s it contains. The juice is beneficial to diabetics due to a hormone it contains that help the cells of the pancreas produce insulin. Cucumbers help reduce cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure so its great for both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.

It is an excellent source of silica, magnesium, and potassium that help promotes joint health by strengthening the connective tissues and is great for you skin, hair and nails.