Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Appetizers for Dinner, Part 3: Roasted Zucchini Spread

To my husband: I promise to make you a real, sensible dinner sometime soon, that you can even eat with a fork and not your hands.
But isn't eating dinner with your hands so much more fun?  (On a side note, guess who totally needs to run to Target for more paper towels and napkins?)
This Roasted Zucchini Spread is so easy to make.  It packs in a lot of flavor, and a ton of healthy vegetables.  Make it early in the day, when you can stand to turn your oven on, and then put it in the fridge.  It tastes even better once it's chilled out in there a bit.  You can serve this with pita as a dip.  It would also make a great bruschetta topping.  Or you can do what I did, and toss it over some homemade whole-wheat pita chips with some hummus, roasted red peppers, gooey melted mozzarella, kalamata olives, crumbled feta, and call the whole mess "Mediterranean Nachos." 

Roasted Zucchini Spread
serves 6-8
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten

2 medium to large zucchini
2 red bell peppers
1 large red onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tomato paste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a large bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Press in the cloves of garlic.  Whisk together, as you would with a salad dressing.
3. Cut the zucchini, red bell peppers, and onion into 1-inch chunks.  Toss into the large bowl.  Stir the vegetables thoroughly to coat with the olive oil.  I find that tongs work well here.
4. Spread the vegetables out on 1-2 baking sheets.  Err on the side of using 2 baking sheets if necessary -- if you don't spread the vegetables out enough, they will steam instead of roast.
5. Cook the vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring once after 25 minutes or so.  You want them to be moderately browned. 
6. Let the vegetables cool slightly (about 10 minutes), and then toss them into your food process.  Pulse 5-8 times (do not puree).  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Whole Wheat Pita Chips
serves 3-4
adapted from Everyday Italian, by Giada DiLaurentiis
(This bakes at the same temperature that the veggies for the Roasted Zucchini Spread roast, so you might as well do both at once!)

4 6-inch whole-wheat pitas
cooking spray
garlic and herb blend (salt free, such as McCormick's)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 
2. Open each loaf of pita completely, separating the two layers.
3. Cut each layer into 8 wedges.
4. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet.  Coat with cooking spray.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic and herb blend over the pita wedges, to taste. 
5. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until the wedges gain some color.  Take out of the oven, and use a large spatula to turn them over.  Coat the other side with cooking spray, and then season the wedges as with the previous side. 
6. Bake for an additional 5-6 minutes, until lightly browned.  They should be mostly crispy when you remove them from the oven, but they will continue to crisp up a bit more.

Mediterranean Nachos many as you want!

I'm not sure you really need directions here, just some ideas for ingredients to assemble.  I wanted that gooey melted cheese that I associate with nacho, so I spread a little shredded part-skim mozzarella over my pita chips and baked them again at 400 until the cheese had melted.

Other ideas for toppings include:
-roasted peppers, diced
-Kalamata olives
-pine nuts, lightly toasted
-crumbled feta cheese
-white beans
-pepperoncini, sliced
-diced tomatoes
-a squirt of lemon juice
-Roasted Zucchini spread

The possibilities are really endless! 


  1. My husband begs me to cook meat! LOL, this looks good and I like the picture too

  2. Actually, I think silveware is entirely overrated!

  3. This reminds me of my newlywed son and DIL! He's washed many dishes and they met the same place 3 years ago. I love Ina and must try this. Happy to follow.

  4. Ummm the spread looks so healthy and yummy! It sounds so flavourful and perfect with pita chips :)

  5. I much prefer to eat with my hands, just as I much prefer appetizers for dinner! Especially ones like this. Super tasty!

  6. Ooooh, I love the sound of that zucchini spread! I bet it would be great in a sandwich or over pasta. Yum!