Big Swinging Dips

A wreath of raw vegetables with a bowl of dip in the center is a buffet party staple. Carrot nubbins? Check. Hunks of broccoli that will fleck your smile and have people twitching with empathy as they try and act like it's not there? Check. Cherry tomatoes that someone put in the refrigerator and, while providing a needed pop of color, are kind of inedible? Check. Gluey ranch dressing? Check. It's usually the only thing on the board that's somewhat healthy and the plate with the most leftovers. But it doesn't have to be this way. A more interesting dip is a few ingredients and a good food processor away.

Now about the vegetables - no one, and I mean no one, wants to gnaw on a huge floret of cruciferous vegetable wonder at a party where it would be uncouth to double-dip. The point of dip is to add a fatty unctuous touch to a crunchy raw bite. You want a dollop in each nibble (at least I do). So cut your vegetables small and narrow - one bite or two. That way you can dip one end, bite, then flip the little guy and dunk the other end that's not been tainted by your germs and those of your family, dog, etc. Smaller for kids, bigger for adults. Make sense?

One last note - most good dips really love a bit of starch, i.e., a good slice of baguette, pita cracker or pretzel. It kind of detracts from the health element can leave that up to the diner and their conscience. You've laid the groundwork, now it's up to them.

Lemon Feta Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces sheep's milk feta (french)
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh chives (optional)

1. Put everything except chives in the bowl of a food processor and let it rip until smooth. Garnish with chives and additional lemon zest, if desired. 

Roasted Tomato and White Bean Dip

Makes about 2 cups

1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup oven-roasted tomatoes (about 3 medium)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 300ยบ

2. Cut tomatoes into quarters (or smaller if your tomatoes are bigger). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast in oven for approx. one hour or until brown and wrinkled but still a little juicy.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saute pan, add garlic and cook until softened. Add cannellini beans and stir until heated through.

4. Combine tomatoes, bean mixture and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on and add oil in a stream. Serve warm with bread or cool completely and serve with vegetables and crackers.

Note: Don't roast cherry tomatoes at the same time as your big ones.
They cook much faster  and most of mine ended up looking like little burnt pinballs.


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