I love it when I can make a meal out of a bunch of snacks. The trend of creating party boards with a variety of crackers, veggies, cheeses and dips is right up my alley. If you like this style of eating as much as I do, consider making your own pita chips for a fun, homemade addition. They are simple to make and they hold up really well to hearty dips and spreads. Don’t you hate it when your chip or cracker breaks into a million pieces in the dip! Try them with this month’s recipe, Baba Ganoush. They also pair well with Tzatziki, or Cowboy Caviar.
You can find our recipe for Homemade Pita Chips within our recipe for Tzatziki. When you make them yourself, you can choose your favorite type of pita to use. You can even use the pita bread from your favorite Mediterranean restaurant. I like whole wheat pita bread. You will need to separate your pita bread into halves and then cut it into triangles. Spray or brush with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning and bake. Usually one side of pita bread is thicker than the other, so when you bake them, the thin ones will need less cooking time than the thick ones. Putting them on two separate pans or in two batches will help with this.
Whether you have a tailgate coming up or just a fun night at home, give these a try!
Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.
Last month I went to a nice restaurant with my sisters and friends before a play. I ordered a Greek Salad plate. It was delicious, but as I looked at it I thought, “I could make this so easily at home”. The salad was a combination of romaine and other lettuces, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, and feta cheese with some pita bread on the side. The dressing looked and tasted just like our Tzatziki recipe which is so simple and inexpensive to make. Just remember, the flavors in the Tzatziki only get better if you make it the day before you plan to use it. It keeps for 4 days in the refrigerator.
Besides using the Tzatziki as a dressing, it is a great dip for vegetables and pita chips. It is so fresh tasting. Homemade pita chips are also super easy to make and allow you to control the amount and type of fat you add to them.
Tzatziki with Pita Chips
Serving Size: 1/4 cup Tzatziki with 6 chips | Serves: 8 (makes 2 1/2 cups) | Cost Per Serving: $.57
1 unpeeled cucumber, washed and sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced (about 1-2 cloves)
2 containers (6 ounces each) plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried dill and/or fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Ingredients for Pita Chips:
6 whole wheat pita pockets (6”)
1/2 teaspoon spice (choose one or combine dried rosemary, basil, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper)
Use a spoon to scrape out cucumber seeds. Dice the cucumber into small pieces or shred using a grater.
Spread cucumber on two or three layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Roll up the towels and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Transfer dried cucumber to a large bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Cover and refrigerate until served.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut pita in 8 wedges, spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle with seasoning.
Toast chips 4-5 minutes, then turn and toast 1-2 minutes more. (Watch carefully at the end because they can quickly turn brown.)
Hummus is an inexpensive treat to make at home, and it is easy, tasty and good for you! The main ingredient is garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas). Hummus contains iron, protein and fiber, plus other nutrients depending on the ingredients you include.
Hummus can have many different flavors. Our After School Hummus recipe does not include tahini (ground sesame seeds), which can be expensive, or oil, which adds calories. Instead, plain yogurt is added to make it light and smooth. Other tasty ingredients to try in hummus are paprika, peanut butter, curry powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, ground pepper, chili paste, olives and artichokes. Roasted red pepper hummus is often sold in delis—you can make this at home by grilling a halved red pepper until blackened, then pulling off the skin and blending the flesh into the hummus.
If you do not have a good food processor, a blender will work. You will need to turn the blender off and open the top to mix the beans with a spoon inside the blender a couple of times to make sure the hummus is smooth. You may also need to add a little oil or yogurt to thin the hummus.
Hummus can be served with sliced vegetables (carrots, celery, radishes, peppers) as a dip. It can also be used to fill pitas, eaten on crackers or Pita chips, or spread on bread in place of peanut butter.