Dips and chips

Hummus

I’ll admit it – when I get really bored I head for the chips and dips. And I seem to be doing that a lot lately. It’s not a particularly healthy habit but it gives me a satisfyingly crunchy and creamy diversion. Of course, french onion dip and potato chips are probably the worst offenders. But oh, so good. 

In order to get rid of some of the guilt, I’m trying to reduce fat and salt with healthier choices. I’ll share with you some substitutes that are easy to make and fulfill all of the requirements of a good chip-dip combination. Salty, savory, creamy, and of course crunch from chips. 

So many salsas and vegetable combinations make great dips. It means moving away from thinking about dips as only creamy. One of my favorites is pico de gallo, a chunky salsa that is just as good on chips as it is on fajitas. 

I tend to rely on vegetables I froze last summer, but you can also buy them fresh. Even supermarket tomatoes are suitable for jazzing up in a salsa. The peppers and onions give them flavor. You can also use frozen corn, canned artichoke hearts, canned beans and even frozen mango if you want to make a fruity salsa. 

Some dips: 

  1. Roasted eggplant
  2. Feta or goat cheese blended with artichoke hearts and roasted peppers
  3. Corn and black bean salsa
  4. Pico de gallo
  5. Classic bruschetta (tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil)
  6. Hummus – make from chickpeas or white beans, use as a dip or a spread on sandwiches or toast. 
Texas caviar – made with black-eyed peas and corn

Chips: 

  1. Pita chips (easy to make your own by cutting fresh pita into quarters and toasting them)
  2. Fresh vegetables – peppers, celery, carrots, broccoli, radishes, turnips, cucumbers
  3. Toasted sourdough pieces
  4. Check out the myriad of commercial chips available – beets, sweet potato, taro, carrot, turnip

I grow eggplants in every summer, and although we do eat some of them fresh, I roast and freeze lots so I have them available for this rich dip. It’s a riff on baba ganouj, a classic middle eastern dish. And infinitely adaptable to whatever you want to add. 

Eggplant dip (Baba ganoush)

Eggplant dip
  • 1 medium eggplant, roasted and peeled
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, diced
  • ½ c. toasted bread crumbs or panko
  • ¼ c. tahini
  • ¼ t. cumin
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Saute onion and garlic in 2 T. olive oil until soft. Process in a food processor with the pepper and eggplant until you reach the consistency you like, smooth or chunky. 

Stir in rest of ingredients, salt to taste and serve at room temperature with pita chips. 

Pico de gallo

This Mexican favorite has a fresh, tangy flavor and just longs for crisp tortilla chips. 

pico de gallo
  • 1 chile, chopped (with or without seeds depending on your taste)
  • 3-4 tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T. vinegar or lime juice
  • 1 T. fresh cilantro
  • 1 t. salt

Mix and chill. Serve as dip with tortilla chips, on black bean tacos or as topping for a baked potato. Feel free to add other ingredients such as black beans or corn.

Hummus 

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained or 2 cups freshly cooked
  • 1/2 c. tahini
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1 t. cumin (tip from my brother – roast whole cumin seeds and grind for unbelievable flavor)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 t. cayenne
  • Olive oil (you can use some of the juice from the beans to reduce fat)
  • Salt to taste

Blend all but the olive oil. Gradually add enough olive oil or bean juice to make it creamy but not runny. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for the flavors to blend. 

Garlic Scapes

Ever wonder about those interesting curled shoots coming off the garlic plants? These are the lovely flower heads of the garlic bulbs. They are delicious and are actually a vegetable on their own as well as a mild garlic seasoning. Unlike the fiery flavor of garlic bulbs, they have a sweet flavor that is a mix of garlic, leek and onion, and a texture not unlike asparagus. 

Freshly harvested garlic scapes

Scapes grow out of the center of hardneck garlic, usually starting in early June. It’s best to harvest them when they are young, usually right before they make a huge curl, as they tend to get tough the longer they stay on the plant. 

You will be doing the garlic a favor by pinching out the scapes since leaving them on the plant reduces the size of the garlic bulb below and makes the bulbs less storable.

Garlic scapes ready to pick

Check out farmers’ markets

Scapes are available at farmers’ markets now and will probably be around a couple more weeks. They store quite well in the refrigerator so when you find them, pick up a few and give them a try. They are delicious grilled or chopped fresh for a salad, frittata or stir fry. Or, blend them into hummus or pesto, or puree them and mix into softened sweet butter for a delectable dressing for sweet corn. They are also scrumptious when pickled. 

Garlic scape, lemon verbena pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

½ c. garlic scapes

2 c. fresh basil leaves, oregano, parsley, lemon balm or any combination you desire

¼ c. nuts (pine, walnut, pecans)

1 ½ t. salt

¼ t. pepper

½ cup olive oil

3 oz. Parmesan

Combine all ingredients except oil and cheese in blender or processor. Add half the oil. Process while adding the rest of the oil. Stir in cheese and toss with hot cooked pasta or rice. If you have plenty of scapes, consider making the pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays or flat in a freezer bag. Leave out the cheese until ready to use. You can simply break off a piece for a quick lunch. 

Garlic scape pesto ready for the freezer

Bean Dip (and traditional Hummus)

Have you ever been to a potluck or party where bean dip or hummus was not standard fare? Kick these healthful dips up a notch by adding all manner of vegetables and seasonings – a great chance to use your imagination. 

Serve traditional hummus in non-traditional ways

Traditional hummus is made with chickpeas and tahini, but you can make a delectable spread or dip with absolutely any type of bean and just about anything added to it. Vary your recipe with seasonings as well as what you serve it on. Try it spread on toasted baguette slices, topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic and basil as a riff on bruschetta. Or simply try it on a sandwich in place of mayonnaise. Delectable!

If you’re willing to experiment: 

If you’re willing to experiment!

Puree 2 cups cooked garbanzos, cannelini beans, even black-eyed peas. You can use tahini or any other type of butter such as almond, walnut or pecan butter. Peanut butter makes it a bit strong, but still good. Add roasted peppers, cooked pumpkin, spinach, chard and season with garlic, cilantro, parsley or thyme. Season with sriracha, chipotle tabasco or other pepper for a kick. Leave it somewhat chunky or puree until smooth, according to your taste.

The basic recipe for hummus (substitute at will!):

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained or 2 cups freshly cooked

1/2 c. tahini

1 T. lime juice

1 t. cumin

1 clove garlic

1/4 t. cayenne

Olive oil

Salt to taste

Blend all but the olive oil. Gradually add enough olive oil to make it creamy but not runny. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature with toasted pita chips, pretzels or sliced cucumbers, peppers aand carrot sticks. 

Other combinations:

Black beans with sour cream, cumin, garlic and chopped chipotle chiles in adobo. Serve with tortilla chips or toasted corn tortilla wedges

White beans with almond butter, roasted peppers, roasted garlic. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette slices.

Black-eyed peas with crumbled crisp bacon, sweet onion and sweet peppers. Serve with cornbread squares

To traditional hummus, add chopped roasted red peppers, a couple of tablespoons of cooked pumpkin or butternut squash or sun dried tomatoes.