What’s in a Dip???
Full course meals are great. But sometimes you just need to chow down on some good old fashion snack food!! Well I have a few recipes that your going to love. The four Dips I am going to speak about today are the every delicious Eggplant Dip, Garlic Humus Dip, Guacamole and a Bacon Cheddar Cheese ball. The dips shown in the picture are from a fun summer day down In Lavallette NJ with our entire family. So there was a dip for everyone. The nice thing about these particular dips are that they hold up nicely throughout the day.
As a kid I wasn’t very fond of Eggplant, it was all about the texture, as I grew older I started to appreciate the finer points of this fruit (yes fruit I looked it up to make sure) Josephine Castaldo made a mean eggplant Parmesan that reintroduced me to a meal that in the past I would say thanks but no thanks. There are so many meals that you can make from an Eggplant. A few years back Wayne and I went to a great restaurant in Lambertville NJ, Lily’s on the canal unfortunately they have since closed. We discovered a wonderful side dish called eggplant fries. But I digress I will dedicate a blog on all the wonderful treats that can be made from Eggplant at a later time.
So a few years back I was at Burtucci’s for lunch and they had a great roasted eggplant on the antipasto salad. I decided to try and duplicate it at home, after a few tries I was able to get close, but what I did discover was that all the ingredients roasted and blended made a wonderful dip, that could also be used as a pasta topping both hot and cold. The recipe is so simple, you take all the ingredients
2 Red Peppers, 1 large eggplant, 1 medium onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste, Salt, Pepper
and chop into 1 to 1.2 inch cubes, put them all into a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt pepper and garlic. If you like a little spice in your life add a little hot pepper (flakes or sauce) place them on a cookie sheet and roast in oven on 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, you will have to check every 10 to 15 minutes to toss the veggies around so that they all get nice and golden. The next step is to remove from oven and let them cool a bit. Place all the vegetables in a food processor, I haven’t tried but I am sure you can use a blender as well. This part is really a personal choice, blend them completely so that the dip is smooth, or leave it a little chunky. When you use it over pasta you really don’t even need to blend (you also don’t need to wait for it to cool), again your choice, but the flavors blended are amazing. You are ready to go, this can be made ahead and refrigerated, I suggest you take it out of the refrigerator before hand to get it closer to room temperature.
Next on our list of Dips is Roasted Garlic Humus…
I was always a little afraid of making this dip, not sure why in the end it is very simple and there are so many variations that you can make. I have a very dear friend Rome Feliciano who has been making humus for years, and I have never had a better one than his… But it is his secret recipe so I started to look at recipes on how to create my own.
Now I started this process because, like I said in my first post, as we get older we need to adapt, I never use to look at how much salt there was in processed foods. What an eye opener. Now when you make Humus you can use dried chick peas (no salt) or you can use canned chick peas (a little easier) but you need to be careful many of the canned beans are high in salt, if you are trying to stay away from this I suggest you use the dried chick peas, but they do sell low sodium chick peas, you would need to check the label.
So if we are using the dried beans you will need to be proactive as I have said before, I am not very good at that, and soak them overnight. The next day you will need to place the chick peas in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and let them cook for about 1/2 hour. While the beans are cooking you will need to roast your garlic. Take a full garlic bulb or 2 if you like a lot of garlic flavor and cut the top off, not too much just enough to let the oil penetrate to garlic cloves. Put the garlic cloves on a piece of Foil and put a little olive oil over it. now wrap the garlic in the foil and put in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees (the garlic will be soft and when it cools you will be able to pop the cloves out and add to the chick peas. make sure you put it on a pan sometimes the oil leaks out.
Now you need to drain the chick peas and save the liquid for later use. The softer the chick pea the smoother your Humus will be. Once they are cooked let them cool slightly they should be warm add them to the food processor, depending on the size of you processor you might have to do in a few batches so that all the chick peas are blended and smooth. As you are blending the beans you will add your (oil) salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic ( you will have to decide how much garlic) and spices. You will add the liquid you saved one tablespoon at a time to get a thick peanut butter consistency. As a side note most recipes call for Tahini butter (sesame seed) and they say to put 1 cup. I like to keep the calories down and if I don’t have Tahini in the cabinet I use olive oil, it changes the flavor slightly, but actually I like it just as much, I suggest you start with 1/4 cup of either oil and then decide if you need or want more. Actually the water you add creates the creamy texture in your humus. Just remember to start with a little water and work your way up to the consistency you would like. Once there is to much you have soup instead of dip!!!
1 pound bag of dried chick peas (or 1 can), 1/4 cup Tahini, or 1/4 cup Olive Oil, 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice, 1 or 2 Garlic Bulbs, Salt, Pepper and if you like 1/2 tsp. Cumin.
The Guacamole dip is super easy, You will need 2 ripe avocados, they need to be slightly soft to the touch, to soft and they will have a lot of brown marks. Simply cut the avocados in 1/2 remove the pit (save the pit) and place the Avocado meat into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice, (this helps with the flavor but also to keep the guacamole from getting brown) Salt, Pepper to taste. blend til it is smooth, (again you can leave this chunky) at this point you can leave it this way or you can add a twist I learned long ago from a dear friend down at South Winds Marina Laurie Catania. Add a 1/4 cup of Salsa it can be homemade or store bought and mild or hot your choice. Mix it into the guacamole and you are ready to serve. If you aren’t using this for a while you should cover so that it doesn’t get brown, also it is said if you leave one of the pits in the bowl with the guacamole it helps keep it from turning brown. Probably an old tale but a fun party story.
2 Avocados, 1/2 lemon juiced, 1/4 cup salsa, Salt, Pepper
Finally the Bacon Cheddar cheese ball. This is exactly as it sounds. the ingredients are
8 oz cream cheese (can use lite I wouldn’t suggest fat free), 8 oz cheddar cheese grated, (this you can use fat free), 1 pound bacon cooked and crumbled and 3 or 4 scallions chopped. you simply mix all the ingredients together and make a ball, then you need to refrigerate until you are ready to use. this creates a very chunky dip, if you want it to less chunky add 4 more oz. of cream cheese or reduce the amount of each of the cheddar and bacon.
Sorry No pictures of the process for the last 2 dips, they are pretty self explanatory but I will post pictures at a later date. If you are wondering what the final dip is, it is simply salsa. You can’t please everyone so chips and salsa are always on the menu for those who are being good and watching the calories or for those that are not fans of the dips at the party… So I hope that you will give these dips a try this summer and post a picture or two in the comments or on my Instagram or Facebook page…. ENJOY