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.
- Roasted eggplant
- Feta or goat cheese blended with artichoke hearts and roasted peppers
- Corn and black bean salsa
- Pico de gallo
- Classic bruschetta (tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil)
- Hummus – make from chickpeas or white beans, use as a dip or a spread on sandwiches or toast.
- Pita chips (easy to make your own by cutting fresh pita into quarters and toasting them)
- Fresh vegetables – peppers, celery, carrots, broccoli, radishes, turnips, cucumbers
- Toasted sourdough pieces
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.