Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper-Feta Spread

This is the signature appetizer you'll want at all your parties.

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper-Feta Spread
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
25 mins
Chill Time:
1 hrs
Roast Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins

One of our favorite ways to get a party going is with a simple dip or spread—but you won't find any boxed-mix onion dip here. Highlighting the best seasonal produce, our Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper-Feta Spread will be the life of the party.

You can pull together this recipe with any cherry tomatoes, but ones that are still on the vine make a striking presentation placed atop the crimson-hued red pepper spread. Some components of this multi-faceted appetizer can be prepared in advance, like the quinoa.

The Red Pepper-Feta Dip is delicious on its own—simply combine the red peppers, feta, lemon juice, garlic, crushed red pepper, and olive oil in the food processor and blend—but we really take it over the edge with a topping of burst cherry tomatoes and crispy fried quinoa. Working in batches and using a large Dutch oven are a must for frying the quinoa; after frying, the individual grains separate easily when tossed.

This special appetizer will enliven any summer soiree; it might just become your new house signature.


  • 1 cup cooked red quinoa

  • Canola oil

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 cup drained jarred roasted red bell peppers

  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish 

  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil,

  • 1 ½ pounds red cherry tomatoes (on the vine, if possible) 

  • 4 (6-inch) thyme sprigs, plus more for garnish

  • Toasted pita wedges


  1. Spread quinoa in an even layer on a paper towel-lined plate. Let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour or up to overnight (12 hours) to dry out. Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch in a medium Dutch oven; heat over medium to 375°F. Fry quinoa in 2 batches, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.

  2. Process red peppers, feta, lemon juice, garlic, crushed red pepper, ¼ cup of the olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a food processor until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover; chill until ready to serve, at least 1 hour or up to overnight (12 hours).

  3. Preheat oven to 475°F. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Remove from heat; add tomatoes (still on vine) in a single layer. Add thyme sprigs; sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Transfer skillet to oven; roast until tomatoes begin to burst open, 8 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt.

  4. Spread red pepper-feta mixture on a serving platter. Top with roasted tomatoes and crispy quinoa. Garnish with additional crushed red pepper and thyme sprigs; serve with toasted pita wedges.

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