I hope you have all been enjoying a lovely holiday season. I am especially grateful for this time of year since my oldest is home from college and our family is complete. There’s nothing I cherish more than everyone being together, especially when we can also spend quality time with my whole family in New York. It’s truly my favorite time of year.
I what I also love about the holidays is having the extra time to visit with friends at home. It doesn’t have to be a big to-do or a multi-course dinner. What I prefer more than anything is just enjoying some small bites and a nice glass of wine. Give me a creamy dip and some crudites, a few small pieces of toast and seasonal fruit and I’m a happy girl.
Since you might be having some friends over during the next week or so, or on football game days, I thought I would share how I “upgrade” my favorite dips. With a little extra effort, you can transform something as mundane as hummus into something even more delicious and more impressive.
The simple technique is to spread the dip onto a plate or a shallow bowl instead of a deep bowl. Then add lots of toppings so that when you scoop up a bit of dip, you also get a mouthful of other tasty bits as well. I can’t eat basic dips any other way now!
I’ve shown some examples here of simple dips, like basic hummus, beet hummus, butternut squash hummus, minted pea dip. Click on the name of each dip to be linked to the recipe. Of course, you don’t have to make these dips from scratch, especially if you are pulling together a last-minute get-together. Head over to your local market or your favorite Middle Eastern take-out place and fancy-up those dips in the same way.
Lately, I have taken to loading the dip with even more toppings than shown here. Let me give you some suggestions of what would be delicious with what. Keep in mind I serve everything at room temp, so if sautéing is involved, you can for sure get that done well ahead of time.
Basic hummus: sautéed or roasted eggplant, sautéed onions or shallots, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, paprika or sumac, minced parsley
Basic hummus (in the summer): diced fresh tomato, cucumber, red onion, olives, feta, parsley
Beet hummus: feta, toasted pistachios or pine nuts, mint, diced cucumber
Butternut squash hummus: extra roasted butternut squash, feta, toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, dried oregano, olive oil
Minted pea dip: thinly sliced radishes, feta, fresh mint or dill, toasted pine nuts or walnuts, olive oil, extra blanched peas
White bean dip: diced roasted red peppers, extra white beans, sautéed garlic slices, olives, basil or parsley
Vegan Queso: sautéed fire roasted corn, black beans, cilantro, red onion, fresh or pickled jalapeño
You get the idea. A creamy dip can benefit from the contrast of something crunchy, in particular. But don’t be shy with the toppings, especially if this is in place of a meal. And then as far as “scoopers,” you can think outside the typical chips and pita. I love endive leaves, roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted sweet potato rounds, slices of jicama, and the more obvious but always healthful fresh veggies like carrots, celery and sugar snap peas. No need to wait until January 1st to get a head start on upping your veggies!