One favorite type of antipasti is a spread. Defined literally as one food that is spread on another food product (usually bread or crackers), spreads are specifically designed to add a particular flavor or texture to a dish. The way they are applied, as well as their culinary purpose, distinguishes them from condiments (such as mustard) and dips (such as salsa and chutneys).
Three of the most common and delicious spreads are hummus, baba ghanoush, and pâté.
A staple in Middle Eastern and Arabic food, the word hummus comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpeas.” The full name in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna, which means “chickpeas with tahini.” The name accurately describes the spread, which is made of mashed chickpeas mixed with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Hummus is most often served with a flatbread (such as pita) and can either be eaten plain or topped with tomato, cucumber, caramelized onions, coriander, olives, pickles, or pine nuts.
Baba Ghanoush is a dish that originates from the eastern Mediterranean region. The Arabic term means “father of coquetry” and it is believed that the original creator of the dish was a member of a harem.
The main ingredient in baba ghanoush is eggplant. Baked or broiled over an open flame to give it a nice smoky flavor, the pulp of the eggplant is then mashed and mixed with olive oil and various seasonings, such as tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, mint, salt, and parsley. Baba ghanoush is most often spread on khubz (a type of flatbread) or pita bread.
Considered a delicacy in many culinary traditions, pâté consists of a mixture of cooked ground meat (most often liver) and fat that is finely minced until it becomes a spreadable paste. The meat and fat can be combined with other ingredients, including spices, herbs, alcohol (most often wine, cognac, brandy, or Armagnac), and vegetables. Pâté is usually served on soft bread, garnished with dill or other fresh herbs.