I poached the concept for this whipped goat cheese dip with pita chips directly from the Wallace Neff Bar at the Ojai Valley Inn. On a night out with my sisters, as soon as the dip landed on our cocktail table I silently schemed to make it at home. OK, maybe not silent, I was with my sisters, which drops most filters; it was more of a gin-soaked announcement, “I can totally make this.”
I know my way around whipped feta dip, but whipped goat cheese dip was new to me and delicious. It’s fresh, flavorful and cool, making it the perfect summer cocktail hour offering. After that initial taste in Ojai, I’ve been hankering for another round. It was time to own up to my kitchen declarations.
The first step is a stop in the garden. I have an abundance of parsley, basil, cilantro, mint and thyme lined up in rows throughout the garden and spilling out of terra cotta pots nestled outside my kitchen door. If there is a small spot of available garden real estate, I’ll stuff in some herbs. Read a few recipes here and you’ll know they find their way into most everything I cook.
The best part of growing your own herbs is the flowers that develop after the plant has matured. Yes, you can find most fresh herbs at the store or farmers market, but there are slim chances of finding those blossoms.
These buds are beautiful and carry such captivating flavor — floral, sometimes spicy, with a hint of the plant it came from. Chive blossoms, blooms of mint and thyme, the shockingly yellow wild arugula bud and the white flowers that appear so quickly on basil plants. All of these flowers make their way into garnishing dishes, sprinkled on just about any salad, dip, soup or even steak. What little girls or big wine dudes wouldn’t be charmed?
I digress, but what do you expect? Grab your herbs and any blossoms, and then grab your goat cheese. I buy the Silver Goat brand from Trader Joe’s on the recommendation of Chef Maili. It was great back then in 2012 and it’s still delicious in 2015.
After washing your herbs make sure to dry them well or you will have black mushy herbs in your lovely chevre dip and that’s not pretty.
I like the texture and size of these homemade pita chips over the store bought variety. I like the pita bread from a local company, Ethnic Breads – you can find it at Von’s and Whole Foods here in Santa Barbara. No preservatives and great tasting, they’ve become standard on my weekly grocery list. You can make sixty-four chips from just two pitas! I’ve included the simple recipe for those below.
When I made this last week for dinner guests, the six of us managed to wipe this bowl clean. Enjoy!
Whipped Goat Cheese Dip with Herbs
11 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons half n’ half
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped fine
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped fine
1 tablespoon tarragon or basil, chopped fine
Garnish of any type herb flowers, optional
In a bowl mix the ingredients until fully incorporated. You can use a fork, but I prefer my flat whisk. Garnish with fresh herb flowers. Serve with pita chips, recipe below.
Makes 62 chips
To highlight the amazing fresh flavor of the dip I choose to keep the chips on the simple side. The sesame seeds here are optional, but I love the nuttiness they add. My taste buds go crazy for that toasted sesame flavor.
2 large whole wheat or spinach pitas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat your oven 375
Cut each pita into 16 triangles. Then, use a pairing knife to cut the pita into two separate slices. You should have 32 triangles for each pita after this process. In two separate sheet pans add 1 tablespoon to each of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds. Toss with your hands to incorporate all of the flavors. Bake for 10 minutes. The chips should be crispy and slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Serve or store in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Will keep for three days.