Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dip into this...

I've been really into making dips and spreads over the past few weeks.  I've always been big on condiments, but dips are like condiments on steroids...  you can still add them to anything, but they are also flavorful enough to build a meal around. 

Now, I have to caution you, I'm not really one to follow recipes.  I may start with a recipe as a guideline but then 3-4 steps in; I usually start improvising and adjusting.  So you have to bear with me as I share my "recipes" with you.  Honestly, sometimes I'm not even sure I know exactly how I end up with the finished product.  However, the great thing about these dips/spreads is that you can substitute and experiment with different ingredients and chances are that you will still end up with something yummy!

1.  Summer "Pesto"
Conventional pesto is generally made with basil, olive oil, nuts, parmesan cheese and garlic.  In this recipe, I replaced the cheese and nuts with an avocado.  It gives the dip the same creamy texture plus it's packed with nutrition!  You will also notice that I used garlic scapes (the flower stalk of the garlic bulb that is trimmed off to allow the bulb to continue growing).  Normally I would have just used garlic but since I got the garlic scapes from my CSA, I figured I would use them instead.  They are slightly milder in flavor than the actual garlic bulb but are still quite flavorful.
  • 5 Garlic Scapes
  • 1 Avocado
  • A Handful of Fresh Basil (adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 Lemon (juiced)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Cold Pressed Olive Oil (depending on desired consistency)
  • Salt & Pepper
 Blend the garlic scapes, avocado, basil and lemon juice in a Cuisinart.  Slowly add olive oil as you blend.  Stop when you reach desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This would work as a replacement anywhere you traditionally use pesto but I think it would also be a great dip for raw vegetables.

2. Avocado & Chick Pea Dip
My Mom is worried that I'm not getting enough protein in my diet because I don't eat meat and I eat very little dairy.  As a result, I came up with the following recipe.
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 can Chick Peas (a good source of protein)
  • A Handful of Fresh Cilantro (adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 Lime (juiced)
  • 1Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (another good source of protein for vegetarians)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Cold Pressed Olive Oil (depending on desired consistency)
  • Salt & Pepper
Blend the avocado, chick peas, cilantro, lime juice and nutritional yeast in the Cuisinart.  Slowly add the olive oil as you blend.  Stop when you reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I spread this over lightly toasted sourdough bread and topped with a tomato.


 I found this recipe for Mmmm Sauce on

•1/4 c. canola oil (or oil of your choice)
•1/4 c. almonds
•1/3 c. water
•1/4 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
•1/4 c. nutritional yeast
•2 1/2 T. lemon juice
•1 t. minced garlic
•1/4 t. salt
•3/4 t. curry powder
•1/2 t. dried oregano
•1/2 t. dried cilantro

I started out fully intending to try the recipe exactly as is because of all the rave reviews... however, I had to make some adjustments when I realized I didn't have any chickpeas... and then again when I accidentally turned my Vitamix on before I was ready... and before the lid was on.  So, I had to estimate how many almonds and beans were now on my counter instead of in my blender and try to replace that amount.   Here is how my version of the recipe turned out:

•1/4 c. canola oil (or oil of your choice) olive oil
•1/4 c. almonds
•1/3 c. water
1/4 c. chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1/2 can red kidney beans
•1/4 c. nutritional yeast
•2 1/2 T. lemon juice
•1 t. minced garlic clove of garlic
•1/4 t. salt
3/4 t. curry powder  4 basil leaves
1/2 t. dried oregano 5 dashes of Cholula hot sauce
1/2 t. dried cilantro ground pepper

It was a little thick initially, so I added about a 1/4 cup more water and the consistency improved.  I have to say that this sauce turned out to be really good despite my mishaps along the way.  I ate it over quinoa, kohlrabi (another CSA score) and the remaining 1/2 can of kidney beans.  There is a lot of sauce left so I have a feeling I'm going to be eating this on just about everything this week: as a dip for raw vegetables, as salad dressing, over brown rice and stir fried vegetables, as a spread on sandwiches or in a veggie wrap... the possibilities are endless.  Next time, I'm going to follow the recipe exactly (we'll see how that goes) and I will let you know which I prefer.   

Not following recipes word for word means that nothing turns out exactly the same twice, which can be disappointing if it's not as good as you remember.  But on the other hand, a lot of times things turn out better the second time around.  Not being a perfectionist in the kitchen allows for happy accidents and can lead to the creation of lots of fabulous new combinations and flavors that you never imagined when you set out.  I think having fun in the kitchen and being open to new ideas makes the entire cooking process more enjoyable.  So, don't order in or throw a frozen dinner in the microwave next time you don't have all the ingredients a recipe calls for.  Use what you have, improvise, have fun and enjoy the experience!

Have a healthy day!


  1. i LOVE dips! they all sound so good!

  2. i just ate some heart-healthy avocado (with some chipotle but i digress...) - i am excited to try the pesto!! you are such a chef!