Summer is here, so let the entertaining begin. Obviously, June offers many opportunities for produce to play a role in your summer social calendar. Corn, portabella and zucchini on the grill, honeydews, cantaloupe and watermelon for breakfast, or fruit salad, grapes for snacking, and cut carrots, cucumbers and peppers for dipping. Well you get the point.
But your veggies can play a bigger role than just holding the dip — they can be the dip itself.
Here are some great tasting and easy-to-make vegetable dips to try at a graduation party or for Dad on Father’s Day.
Let’s start with basil. It is often sprinkled over vegetables to bring out their flavors in cooking; just think what it will do as a dip. This high-protein spread is simple to make and great to have on hand for all kinds of uses. It’s a fantastic addition to a grilled veggie platter, a wonderful sandwich spread or even rolled up in steamed chard leaves as an appetizer.
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
– Puree all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until creamy. Add extra oil if necessary for desired consistency.
Next up is the often under-appreciated beet, which is too bad because beets are a rich source of folate and the natural red pigments indicate they are a good source of antioxidants.
It is a very light and refreshing dip to serve instead of hummus or other dips. It tastes a bit sweet and creamy. I really liked this alternative and creative taste! Also, it is easy and only takes a few minutes to make.
1 beet root, cooked
2/3 cup unsweetened yogurt
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of salt
– Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Serve chilled with crackers.
If you buy a bunch of beets, then either make a double or triple version of this recipe or try some raw, peeled beets tossed into a salad or perhaps lightly cooked with a bit of onion, olive oil and your favorite herbs. You’ll be surprised just how sweet they are. Don’t throw the leaves and stems away as they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and would be the perfect start to a vegetable stock or broth.
ROASTED RED BELL PEPPER HUMMUS
16 oz. chickpeas
6 oz. roasted red bell peppers
1 jalapeno, seeded, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Toasted pita bread, for serving
– Mix all ingredients, except olive oil and pita bread, in food processor until pureed, and then slowly add in olive oil. Let set up for one hour prior to serving. Serve with toasted pita bread or on your favorite veggie burger with lettuce and tomato. It is sure to become a new favorite topping. 8 to 12 servings