During the holidays, I love giving my friends and neighbors gifts from my kitchen. But baking and decorating loads of cookies is not my style. I prefer to spread Christmas cheer with savory items like dips, spreads, make-ahead breakfast casseroles (perfect for Christmas morning) and my very own “Cajun Mary” Mix. These types of food gifts are perfect for everyone on my list, from my shop-till-you-drop friends who hardly have time for a meal to my house-hotel neighbors hosting shifts of family throughout the holidays.
This year I’m gifting my Sun Dried Tomato and Chickpea Spread. I’ve been making it for years from pantry staples. It’s full of Italian flavors and is quite healthy, especially when stacked up against peppermint bark and chocolate crinkles. This spread can also be made in one-fourth the time it takes to bake a batch of holiday cookies. With a food processor, I can whip up five batches in less than an hour! Once the spreads are done, I’ll transfer each batch to a Christmasy bowl, tuck in a matching spreader, wrap it up in cellophane and label it with the recipe. For an added touch, I’ll also repackage store-bought crostini in festive bags sealed with decorative ribbon.
Sun Dried Tomato and Chickpea Spread Recipe
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, oil reserved
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper to taste
Place chickpeas and next 6 ingredients in a food processor with the knife blade attachment. Add reserved sun dried tomato oil, up to one-fourth of a cup. Save the rest for another use (like pasta salad). Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides if necessary. Transfer spread to a serving bowl; add mayonnaise and salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with a bit of parsley flakes and Parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini or assorted crackers. Makes 1 cup.