I was at a bridal shower recently where one of the items on the menu was so simple and clever I wondered why I’d never seen it before: Tall slender stalks of red and yellow peppers and celery perched upright in a small glass with about a 1/2-inch of a creamy dip at the bottom.
An all-in-one appetizers with little muss of fuss. It’s an idea I plan to steal.
And while veggies are a healthy and colorful way to get that dip from container to mouth, it’s the dip that really matters.
After all, have you ever been to a party where dips weren’t served? Me, neither.
They are the anchors of many party tables — with lots of advantages, from easy to make to easy to experiment with.
They’ve sure come a long way from the days when we grabbed a container of sour cream and mixed it with dry soup or salad dressing mixes.
Creamy dips often are based on using mayonnaise, cream cheese and sour cream — all of which add fat and calories. Simply substituting reduced-fat versions or nonfat Greek-style yogurt can lighten the fat and calorie load considerably.
All the dip recipes you’ll find here are meant for warm-weather gatherings. Tired of the ever-present layered Mexican dip? Here you’ll find two alternatives, one a Greek version and another Asian-inspired with chicken.
Others call for corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and other vegetables you may have in your garden.
With warm weather here (well, almost), make sure your next get-together includes one of these dips.
SPINACH AVOCADO DIP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 ounces spinach, rinsed well, tough stems removed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium-ripe Hass avocados
1 cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
12 ounces sugar snap peas
9 small slices pumpernickel bread, cut into triangles
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add shallots and garlic, stirring often; cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and about 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, until spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.
Uncover. Cook until liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Refrigerate until cooled, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, purée avocados, yogurt, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth.
Season with pepper. Finely chop the cooled spinach mixture. Stir into the avocado purée. Serve with snap peas and bread for dipping.
Each 2 tablespoons of dip has 46 calories, 3 grams , 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 46 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.
Martha Stewart Living/December 2011
GREEK 7-LAYER DIP
1/2 cup sliced roasted red pepper
1 3/4 cups nonfat Greek plain yogurt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hummus
1 cup peeled and chopped cucumber
2/3 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 scallions, chopped
In a food processor, combine roasted red pepper, Greek yogurt, garlic, basil and salt and pepper until mostly smooth. Spread 1 cup of the red pepper mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch round pie plate.
Spread hummus evenly on top of red pepper mixture all the way to the edges of the plate.
Top hummus with an even layer of the cucumbers, followed by the olives, then the feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and scallions.
Serve with pita chips for dipping.
Tablespoon.com via girlversusdough.com
Cucumber Party Dip
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
8 ounce low-fat sour cream
1/2 of a medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
Ground black pepper
Cucumber slices, baby carrots and/or assorted crackers
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; beat in sour cream until fluffy. Stir in cucumber, tomato, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with assorted dippers.
Crispy Parmesan cups
with salmon dip
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, yogurt, dill, lemon juice and salt. Stir in the salmon, and then place in a container with a cover. Refrigerate.
On a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, place 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese in a flat circle. Repeat until you have about 4 to 6 circles on the mat. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Remove, and let cool for 1 minute.
Using a spatula, remove the cheese circles, and set them into a muffin tin to form the cup shapes. Let the cups sit for 5 minutes, and then place a large scoop of dip into each Parmesan cup. Yields 10 cups.
Easy Cold Corn Dip
6 ears of corn (corn cut off the cob)
4 ounces goat cheese
10-15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several leaves of fresh basil chopped
Few dashes of salt and pepper
In a large bowl combine all your ingredients. Softly stir until goat cheese is mixed evenly and there aren't chunks. Serve immediately or store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Serving size:1/4 cup, each with 66 calories, 3 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein.
Asian-inspired Layered Chicken Dip
3/4 to 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken
1/2 to 2/3 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon soy sauce, low-sodium
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, low-sodium
8 ounce cream cheese, low-fat or fat-free, softened
1 tablespoon milk, skim
1/4 cup chopped, unsalted peanuts
Green onions, sliced
Chicken Topping: Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate to blend the flavors.
Sweet and Sour Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and cornstarch. Mix well and gradually add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes. Mixture should slightly thicken. Cool the sauce and place in refrigerator. (It can be served chilled or at room temperature.)
Base: Combine the softened cream cheese and milk; blend until smooth and fluffy.
Spread the mixture over a 10-inch round serving dish or two smaller dishes.
Spoon the chicken topping evenly over the cream cheese mixture. Drizzle the sweet and sour sauce, then add the unsalted peanuts and sliced green onions. Serve immediately.
WARM AND CREAMY BACON DIP
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups low-fat sour cream
6 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese blend
1 cup chopped green onion
Toasted bread slices
Vegetables on skewers
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Place the mixture in a 1-quart baking dish. Cover. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling and hot.
Instead of a baking dish, you can slice about a ¼-inch piece off the top of a round sourdough loaf; set the piece aside. Hollow out the loaf; cut up the bread to serve with the dip. Spoon the dip into the hollowed-out crust. Replace the top slice. Wrap the bread bowl in foil and bake in the preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.
Analysis per 2 tablespoons of dip. Makes: 4 cups, each 2 tablespoons of dip has 57 calories , 4 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 100 mg sodium, 13 mg cholesterol.
Adapted from Daisy Sour Cream recipes by Susan M. Selasky for the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen