Five Easy Appetizers and Dips
Whether it’s to celebrate a birthday, a holiday, a new job, or just to watch your favorite sports team in action, having a casual gathering to share food and drink is one of the best ways I know to spend time.
Ah, but there’s that whole cooking thing. What to fix? Where to find time? Where to fit entertaining into the budget? And what about that vow to eat healthier food? It’s all too much fuss, right?
Wrong. You can do this, even with limited time and limited money. And if you really want to “be good” about sticking with a diet, you can, even while enjoying the company of family and friends.
Here are five dips that can be served with crackers, chips, or fresh vegetables. They’re easy to make, require no fancy, expensive ingredients, and a couple are even quite healthy!
Balsamic White Bean Dip
1 15-ounce can white beans (also called cannellini), drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Optional herbs such as basil, rosemary, oregano, or thyme
In a blender, puree beans, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in herbs, if used. Transfer to bowl and serve with crudites, crackers, or bread.
Homemade Onion Dip
Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown
You won’t believe how easy it is to make onion dip even better than what’s in those plastic containers.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup mayonnaise
More salt to taste
In a saute pan over medium heat, add oil, onions, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook onions until they are caramelized (brown and very soft), about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove onions from heat and cool. Mix remaining ingredients, then add the cooled onions. Cover, refrigerate for an hour, and stir again before serving.
10-ounce package frozen spinach
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 package dry vegetable soup mix (for instance, Knorr)
3 green onions, chopped
Thaw and squeeze dry the frozen spinach. (This is messy, but necessary to get extra moisture out of the spinach.) Stir together spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, soup mix, and onions. Blend well, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Stir before serving. Great with crackers or bread.
Mrs. MacNeill Dip
Named after my sister’s high school accounting teacher. This is a low-cal, low-fat dip that’s a breeze to make.
2 small cans tomatoes, drained
4 or 5 green onions
1 small can green chiles
1 small can mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar (balsamic or rice vinegar work, as well)
garlic salt (or 1 clove fresh garlic)
Put first five ingredients in blender or food processor; blend until finely chopped. Add oil. Vinegar and garlic salt (or garlic). Refrigerate over night to allow flavors to blend. Great with chips and fresh vegetables.
Basil and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
6 sun-dried tomato halves (if using the kind packed in oil, drain and blot off as much oil as possible using paper towels)
½ cup boiling water
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon black pepper
Salt, to taste
In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes and water. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the tomatoes. Drain well and chop tomatoes finely. Put cottage cheese in a food processor or blender. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Process using on/off turns until well mixed and fairly smooth. To thin, add a few teaspoons of milk at a time. Serve with crackers, bread and fresh vegetables.