This recipe for Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip was inspired by a recent 2 day Agri-Tour I attended with California Grown on the central California coast. The region is special place for me because I had just moved away from Santa Barbara a month and a half before the tour. This was my first time being back to the area and the lush landscape, refreshing ocean breeze and picturesque SoCal sunsets immediately reminded me why this is such a special corner of the country. There is no arguing that the central California coast is drop dead gorgeous, but it has so much more to offer than just good looks.
(This post was proudly made in partnership with California Grown. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that I love.)
California is a wonderland from the peaks to the valleys, the desert to the sea, and everything in between. This great state is a diverse land that produces some of the finest produce and plants in the country. In fact this incredibly fertile state grows over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts. How’s that for fruitful?
Our tour was led by the vivacious go-getter, California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross. She is a wealth of knowledge who is bringing real & impactful change to the way the state of California farms, utilizes and cares for its land. I don’t use the word lightly, but if you could sum Karen Ross up in a single word (you really can’t) it would be passionate. Her enthusiasm and dedication to the state of California and the state of farming is palpable, infectious even. She, her team and all of the CA farmers we met on this tour are instating innovative practices that are improving the farming industry.
Our first stop on the tour was Houweling’s, the world-renowned greenhouse tomato grower in Camarillo, CA. Houweling’s is constantly adapting to reduce environmental impact while delivering the freshest, most flavorful tomatoes and cucumbers around. Thanks to their trail-blazing practices, Houweling’s produces 24 times the amount of tomatoes that would be grown in the area of field-farmed tomatoes, using just 6 times the amount of water that would be used in a field-farmed operation. The glass-enclosed structures protect the crops from weather and pests and they maximize all of that natural sunlight using solar power.
All of the plants at Houweling’s are grown hydroponically, without the use of soil, eliminating the use of herbicides. They’ve got a computerized drip irrigation system that feeds every plant with the right amount of water and nutrients. There is a water purification system that recirculates excess water to an on-site water purification facility for reuse.
When they opened the doors to a greenhouse, we were hit with a whipping wind that made us all look like we were in suddenly in the middle of a Beyonce or White Snake video (choose your musical preference). This impressive blast is actually for pest management and that allows the good bugs to go after the bad bugs, mitigating massive crop devastation and the need for pesticides. Seriously cool stuff.
We also learned that Houweling’s is getting ready to roll out their new Free the Cucumbers campaign, a partnership with Apeel Sciences to eliminate the use of single use plastic packaging for their cucumbers. Let them be free!
Before this trip, I had no idea that Houweling’s was such a forward thinking company. I now feel confident knowing the tomatoes I buy are coming from a good place with a mission to preserve our land. As our bus pulled away from Houweling’s, I already had visions of a Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip recipe dancing around in my head.
Next we wound our way up into the hills above Santa Barbara to Goodland Organics to check out Frinj Coffee. Goodland Organics not only grows some of the most stunning and delicious, rare and exotic fruit, but they are also leading the evolution of the coffee growing scene in CA. Who knew?! Jay Ruskey, the forward thinking pioneer behind Frinj Coffee and genuinely cool dude, has figured out the magic formula for inter-planting his avocados with coffee and the benefits it brings to California agriculture.
It turns out the climate and diverse agriculture are just right for growing coffee in California. Jay’s combination of bold thinking and risk taking led him to try something new: building up the domestic coffee industry. Frinj is working with U.C. Davis to research coffee plants and varieties with a goal of making Southern California the next specialty coffee capital of the world.
I lived just down the hill from Frinj Coffee for years and had no idea this coffee industry pioneer was practically my neighbor! I was completely unaware coffee was being grown in the US, let alone just up the hill. We were offered a coffee tasting as we arrived, and I can honestly say it was the cleanest cup of coffee I’ve ever had. It was smooth, not bitter in any way and had a hint of natural sweetness. I look forward to the day when Frinj Coffee is widely available to coffee lovers everywhere.
After a full day of touring we headed back to the hotel, the Four Seasons, The Biltmore Santa Barbara. I’ve adored this hotel at a distance for years. It’s been the backdrop for so many runs while I lived in Santa Barbara, and I’ve wandered the lush grounds more times than I can count. Still, I’d never had the pleasure of staying or dining here until this CA Grown trip. Our impeccable dinner that evening was prepared by the brilliant chef and his talented Biltmore team. The meal contained over 40 California specialty crops, and was entirely locally sourced. Dinner was paired with a selection of unique wines, all sourced from Santa Barbara County. It may have been the most California meal I’ve ever experienced, and I lived in the state for 6 years!
Somehow I was lucky enough to be put up in my own little bungalow and I slept like a baby nestled in the lush greens with cool ocean air breezing by. HEAVEN.
The next morning we rallied for a beautiful breakfast while Secretary Ross shared her personal story and her plans for building a more sustainable farming future in CA. The state of California is leading the industry, which means the rest of the country will soon follow suit, making for a happier, healthier planet.
After breakfast we left for Ocean Breeze Farms in Carpinteria, a cut flower farm. This family owned farm uses sustainable practices and generations of knowledge dating all the way back to the 1600s in Holland to grow high quality, vibrant cut flowers. We toured a greenhouse growing a rainbow of the sunniest, happiest flowers around, Gerberas. Then we toured the bouquet production line and I immediately recognized these colorful arrangements from the many times I’ve purchased these happy bouquets to bring some sunshine to others.
75% of the flowers and cut greens grown in the U.S. are from California! But unfortunately, the low cost of imported flowers is quickly moving in on that number. California Grown or American Grown blooms support local, often family run farms and end up lasting much longer because they aren’t shipped overseas. Look for that CA Grown license plate logo and know that you are supporting California farmers and their families. I could swear I noticed one of the farmers we met tear up a little when telling us about taking over the family business and how proud his mother would be if she could see it now. It’s heartwarming to know there are real people behind these brands who pour their hearts and souls into their craft.
The agri-tour with CA Grown may have been a short trip, but it really got me thinking about where my produce and flowers are sourced, the people behind the farms and the game changing practices they are implementing behind the scenes. Houweling’s, Frinj and Ocean Breeze Farms are all constantly adapting, innovating and shaking up the industry, which fills me with hope for the future of agriculture and the future of us.
This Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip recipe is just one of many recipes I’ve been working on since this eye-opening trip. The creamy, dreamy whipped feta is made with fresh and tangy feta, some cream cheese to smooth out that tang, a little bite from finely grated shallot and garlic, loads of lemon and a kiss of honey to sweeten up the savory. My favorite component of this Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip recipe are the jammy roasted tomatoes that nestle in on top. Grape tomatoes get roasted with garlic, herbs, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roasting the tomatoes transforms them into a sweet and tart, jammy situation that shines like California sunshine atop the creamy whipped feta. This Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip is an evergreen recipe that works anytime of year, but I am really feeling the bright and bold flavors during these cold and gray winter days.
This Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip recipe is just one of many recipes I’ve been working on since this eye-opening trip. The creamy, dreamy whipped feta is made with fresh and tangy feta, some cream cheese to smooth out that tang, a little bite from finely grated shallot and garlic, loads of lemon and a kiss of honey to sweeten up the savory. But my favorite component of this Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip recipe are the jammy roasted tomatoes that nestle in on top. Grape tomatoes get roasted with garlic, herbs, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roasting the tomatoes transforms them into a sweet and tart, jammy situation that sings like California sunshine atop the creamy whipped feta. This Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip is an evergreen recipe that works anytime of year but I am really feeling the bright and bold flavors during the cold and gray winter days.
This Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip was inspired by the agri-tour I took with CA Grown in the Central California Coast.
If you are lucky enough to live in the sunny state of California, I hope you are reaping the benefits of the vast agricultural bounty by which you are surrounded. If not, try transporting yourself to sunny CA with this Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip.Print
Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 0 servings
Tangy feta and smooth cream cheese are blended with rich olive oil, bright lemon, earthy garlic and shallot with a kiss of honey sweetness then topped with roasted grape tomatoes in this luxuriously snackable Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip.
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3–4 cloves garlic (- crushed)
- 3–4 sprigs fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme or rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed (- at room temperature)
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese (- at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium lemon (- zested & juiced)
- 1 small shallot (-grated or finely minced)
- 1 clove garlic (-grated or finely minced)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds (- to garnish)
- Preheat oven 400°F. Place tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic cloves and herbs. Toss to combine, then roast for 25-ish minutes until tomatoes soft and begin to burst. Allow to cool on baking sheet. Remove herbs and garlic.
- While the tomatoes roast, prepare the Whipped Feta Dip. In a small bowl, combine the grated or minced shallot and garlic together with the lemon juice.
- Combine the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed and smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing, followed by the honey. Then add the lemon juice mix, salt and pepper. Process until smooth and airy.
- Transfer to a serving dish and add a swirly spiral with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until the tomatoes have fully cooled.
- Top the Whipped Feta Dip with cooled, roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with fresh herb sprigs and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, if desired.
- Serve with grilled ciabatta, baguette, gluten free crackers, veggies or all of the above!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Snack
- Cuisine: dip
Keywords: Roasted Tomato Whipped Feta Dip
OMG BECKY!! DROOL!!! This recipe looks absolutely amazing! I so loved reliving our adventures together reading your post! You captured it so well! We truly can’t wait for a reunion either in Portland or you come down here! We always have a room for you at the beach! With so much love, Pegs and Megs