It's not just about chips and sour cream anymore. You can plunge into hot, cold, sweet or savory delights. Here's the scoop on the nearly endless choices.

DO THE DIP

May 06, 1998|By Tina Danze | Tina Danze,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

In the early days of dips, every party had the requisite pairing of potato chips and Lipton's Onion Soup mix in sour cream. Now, with so many dip and dipper options, the chips/soup-mix combo is the exception.

Dips come hot, cold, sweet, savory, low-fat or unspeakably fattening, and they're paired with everything from apples to zucchini.

To help with your spring entertaining, we've rounded up a slew of dips ranging from light and herby to rich and desserty. We even threw in a couple of baked casserole dips. Plus, there are spreads and fondues -- close cousins to dips.

Picking just one could be difficult. But why limit yourself? Let guests nibble their way through an all-dip extravaganza.

SAVORY DIPS

Artichoke and Parmesan Dip

In a food processor, blend the following until smooth: 1 drained (14-ounce) can of artichokes, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1 clove of garlic mashed with a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 chopped scallion. Add hot pepper sauce to taste. Serve with French bread slices or pita chips.

Baba Ghannouj

Roast a medium-size eggplant in a 450-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning once, or until flesh is very tender and a sharp knife pierces without resistance. When cool enough to handle, remove peel. In a food processor, mince 1 clove garlic. Add the eggplant flesh, juice of 1 small lemon, 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste) and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Process to blend (may be smooth or a little chunky). Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve with fresh or toasted pita bread.

Basil Pesto Dip

Blend basil pesto from the supermarket deli case with 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup light sour cream and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Serve with small bread sticks or vegetables.

Beer-Cheese Fondue

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 small, finely chopped onion and saute until soft. Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 1/2 pounds sharp Cheddar cheese spread, a little at a time, allowing cheese to melt after each addition. Gradually add 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese and enough beer to thin dip to desired consistency (about 1/2 to 1 cup).

Serve in a fondue pot or bread bowl. Serve hot as a dip or at room temperature as a spread with bread cubes, crackers, new potatoes, vegetables or sausage pieces. To facilitate dipping, offer bamboo skewers.

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus

This dip substitutes black-eyed peas for traditional chickpeas.

Drain and rinse 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas. In the bowl of a food processor, mince 1 clove garlic. Add the beans, 1 heaping tablespoon tahini (sesame paste) and the juice of 1 small lemon. Process until smooth. If mixture is not creamy enough, add 1 tablespoon of warm water or a little olive oil until desired consistency is reached.

Green Goddess Dip

Combine 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 4 finely minced anchovies in a bowl. Mince 1/4 cup parsley and 1 clove garlic and add to dip. Thinly slice 2 tablespoons each green onions and fresh chives and add to dip. Add 2 teaspoons dried tarragon (or 2 tablespoons fresh) and salt and pepper to taste. Combine well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving with vegetables or chips.

Low Country Shrimp Paste

This is an easy dip if you buy your shrimp already cooked and peeled.

In a blender or food processor, chop shrimp. Blend in enough mayonnaise to moisten (1/2 to 3/4 cup). Stir in 2 tablespoons each grated onion, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to blend flavors. Serve with buttery crackers or water biscuits.

Mexican Layered Dip

Buy canned bean dip and guacamole from the supermarket. (Guacamole may be found in the deli case, produce aisle or frozen.) Spread bean dip in the bottom of a casserole. Top with guacamole, light sour cream, salsa, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes and chopped red onion. Serve with tortilla chips.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

Roast, peel and seed 3 red bell peppers (or use imported bottled red peppers). Set aside. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon olive oil over 5 cloves of garlic (peels intact) and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Bake until cloves are soft, about 40 to 60 minutes. Cool. Squeeze the soft garlic cloves from their peels into a blender or food processor. Add the roasted peppers and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. Puree. Stir in 2 tablespoons light sour cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Serve with vegetables or pita chips.

Roquefort Walnut Spread

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