Dreamy Dips. Super Snacks.

Those who know me well know that I am a bit of an efficiency freak. I don’t especially like to waste time. So it should come as no surprise that the Cuisinart is one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools.

 A lesser-known fact …. I adore appetizers. A spread of delectable finger food can easily out-trump a sit down dinner. All those little bowls spilling over with exotic tastes and surprising textures, and plates laden with cheeses and breads and unidentifiable yet tantalizing canapés … heaven.

Combine these two loves with my keen interest in making dishes equally healthy and delicious and you have … dips and spreads.

Now, I hesitant to even attempt making this blog post germane to the pending Super Bowl extravaganza. However nearly every food site known to man is currently rife with recipes for the BIG GAME.  So I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention that the recipes featured below might just be an option for next Sunday. The traditionalists will likely balk – shaking their fists and insisting upon their screaming hot chicken wings, their nachos oozing with melting cheese and jalapenos, their crispy, bear-battered onion rings. I am certainly not proposing that anyone forgo these hearty finger foods. After all, for many the Super Bowl is one of the best excuses to eat with abandon. And I will admit to a certain fondness for my beloved Velveeta and Rotel dip. But if you’re looking for something different – or even just one dish to balance out the time-honored, albeit not terribly wholesome fare – you might consider these recipes.

One final note. Many of us struggle to come up with nourishing snacks for that time between lunch and dinner when our energy ebbs and we start to dig around in purses and pockets for enough spare change to feed the vending machine. And I know I’m always searching for easily transportable, yet nourishing lunch options. I have found that these dips and spreads fit the bill. Whether it’s packing a container of colorful vegetables to dip in garlicky hummus or stuffing a whole wheat pita pocket with cool cucumber slicess layered on a spread of Edamame Dip, these are nutrition-packed solutions that will satisfy any hunger.

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 Asian-Inspired Edamame Dip

 Ingredients

  • 16 ounces shelled, cooked, and cooled edamame
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Zest of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 5  tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons water

 Directions

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil and water into the bowl of a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Once all of the oil has been added, stop, scrape down the bowl and then add water and process another 5 to 10 seconds.

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Italian Cannellini Bean Dip

 Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini (AKA Great Northern) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ medium lemon)
  • Lemon zest from ½ lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 Instructions

Place all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is well blended. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

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Traditional Hummus

 Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup of tahini (roasted variety)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

 Instructions

Place all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is well blended. Season with additional to taste.

Note: a number of ingredients can be added to this basic hummus recipe to alter the flavor. Roasted red peppers add a sweet note. Hot chili oil and toasted pine nuts can spice it up and add some dimension. A large dose of roasted garlic can also give it a different spin.

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 Roasted Butternut Squash Dip

 Ingredients

  • 1  (2-pound) butternut squash
  • 1  small sweet onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5  garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2  tablespoons  crème fraîche  (plain yogurt or sour cream are other options)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped

 Instructions

 Preheat oven to 350°.

Peel squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Chop into small cubes. Line a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with foil and spray generously with olive oil spray. Place cubed squash, quartered onions and garlic cloves (unpeeled) onto foil. Spray all vegetables generously with olive oil spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Remove garlic cloves and set aside. Continue baking squash and onions another 15 minutes or until caramelized and tender. Cool slightly. Squeeze garlic cloves to extract pulp.

Place all ingredients except for squash into the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. In a separate bowl, mash squash. Or use a ricer to process. Add mixture from food processor into bowl and combine. Serve warm.

Notes:  

  • In my attempt to save time, I initially tried roasting the squash whole in the oven, cutting it diagonally and placing it cut-side down in the oven. I was left with a rather soupy version of this dip. So I turned to my culinary guru John Sarran, CIA-trained chef and owner of Bubba’s Diner in beautiful San Anselmo Calfornia (if you’re ever down there – you MUST visit. Bubba’s is an organic, certified Green Business in Marin County with the best Ahi Tuna Potstickers this side of… well, anywhere). He recommended peeling and cubing the squash, which helps roast out a lot of the moisture.
  • It’s tempting to toss the squash into the food processor with all the other ingredients. However it makes the dip a little overly smooth in my opinion.
  • To make this even richer and more divine, replace crème fraiche with 2 tablespoons Mascarpone Cheese and top dip with roasted, chopped hazelnuts. Also try drizzling balsamic vinegar reduction on top before serving. Another of John’s suggestions – add some grated parmesan or goat cheese. Delicious!

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Toasted Pita Chips

If you want to serve something alongside these dips instead of or in addition to crunchy vegetables, try making your own pita chips. Super easy, and just a touch healthier than the pre-packaged variety.

Ingredients

  • 6 whole wheat pitas
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut each pita in half and then into 4 wedges. Divide so each side of pita is its own “chip.”  Spray baking sheet with olive oil spray. Arrange the pita wedges on sheet and spray tops with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.

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One Response to “Dreamy Dips. Super Snacks.”

  1. Emma V. says:

    Thank you Kathryn! These look divine – and definitely the thing to ward off mid-Super Bowl salt slump. (It happens, oh does it ever.)

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