A friend of mine had made a ridiculously delicious feta dip over the holidays. When I say that not a drop was left at the end of the night, I mean, not.a.drop. Like someone had literally taken a piece of pita or bread and literally wiped it clean! It really was that good. When I asked her for the recipe she winced, so I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. The recipe had cups of full fat mayo, canned processed cheese sauce (I didn’t even know that was a thing!), full fat cream cheese, roasted peppers packed in oil, a seasoning packet that contained MSG…it wasn’t pretty. I was DETERMINED to re-make this dip!
Since one of my all time favorite things to do is to “slim-ify” recipes that are delicious to eat, but may not be the best thing for our hearts or thighs, I took this as my own holiday recipe challenge. Sometimes those recipe makeovers are a hit; sometimes they are a big fat NOPE! Thankfully in this case…it was a hit!!! An added bonus that came out of this particular makeover is that it’s a total “double duty” recipe. I used half as a dip, and the other half as a luscious sauce for some pasta and shredded chicken the next day. Cook once – eat twice…BOOM! Winner.
After playing around with different ingredients (and keeping some of the same ones from my friends recipe), I finally came up with something that actually won over my husband (my toughest recipe critic). What I think many of you will like about this recipe is that it’s a total make ahead wonder – in fact, it tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge. I HIGHLY recommend making this one the night before. Oh, and did I mention there is NO cooking involved?!! You just throw all of the ingredients into the food processor, give it a blitz, pour into an airtight container and into the fridge it goes, waiting to be pulled out for dinner the next night or used as a dip to munch on while catching up with family/friends. Win-Win in my book!! Now let’s get those ingredients ready…
Light Sour Cream, Light Mayonnaise, Reduced fat feta, Neufchatel Cheese (fancy for low-fat cream cheese ;o) Roasted Red Peppers packed in water, Dried Oregano, Ground Cumin, Fresh Cilantro, Fresh Garlic, Fresh Jalapeno, Honey, Scallions (green onions), Limes and salt and pepper.
Peel and smash one to two cloves of garlic (I used one, but if you love garlic, by all means, use two).
Then remove the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno, give it a rough chop and set aside. I left the tiniest bit of rib and seeds in mine since I knew I was making the pasta and the kids were going to eat it, but if I were making just as a dip, I would have left a little more in for an added kick.
Then scrape down the sides and add the Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Oregano, Cumin, Jalapeno and smashed Garlic Clove and give it another really good blitz, making sure to break down all the veggies and get to a creamy consistency. NOTE: Depending on the brand of feta that you use, it will give your sauce/dip more texture.
Next you want to add the green onions (scallions) and the cilantro and blitz again, stopping to scrape down the sides if needed. We happen to LOVE cilantro, so I added another handful to mine, so twice the amount of what you see in the pic below.
Once it’s at a texture that you like (super creamy or coarse), put in an airtight container (I like using mason jars) and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) so that it has time for all the flavors to marry and the sauce to thicken up a little.
If you’re using as a dip, serve chilled or at room temp alongside some Pita Wedges, crisp Cucumbers or whatever veggie/cracker/bread you like!
Cyn’s Cilantro Feta Dip/Sauce
* 1 ½ C Reduced Fat Feta Cheese
* 4 oz Neufchatel Cheese (reduced fat cream cheese)
* ¼ C light Sour Cream
* ¼ C Light Mayonnaise
* 2 ½ tsp honey
* 3 to 4 TBS fresh Lime juice (for me, it was the juice of one large, juicy lime)
* 1 heap tsp Cumin
* ½ tsp Oregano
* 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
* Salt to taste (** Taste as you go. Depending on your feta, you might need more or less salt).
* 1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
* 1 fresh Jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
* 1 C (loosely packed) fresh Cilantro (like two really big handfuls)
* 1 ½ to 2 jarred Roasted Red Bell Peppers packed in WATER (NOT oil)
* 2 scallions (green onion) (slice each one and rinse well since sand can get caught inside)
* Salt to taste (**Make sure to taste as you go, depending on your feta, you might need more or less salt).
* When you first make it, it will be super thin (soupy), but don’t worry, it will thicken nicely as it sits in the fridge, just make sure to really pat the peppers well with paper towels so they don’t add too much liquid to the sauce.
* I would NOT use fresh oregano for this. As much as I love using fresh herbs, it’s just a little too strong in this dip and will overpower it, so make sure to use dried Oregano.
* This will keep well in your fridge in an airtight container (like a mason jar) for up to 4 days. Maybe longer, but 4 days is the longest I’ve ever kept it, so I can only attest to that :o)