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Authors: Rick Rodgers

Dip It! (5 page)

BOOK: Dip It!
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¼ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
½ cup pitted and chopped Mediterranean black or green olives (or use both)
3 tablespoons nonpareil capers, drained and rinsed
cup pine nuts, toasted

1. Toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon salt in a colander. Let stand in the sink for 1 to 2 hours to drain off excess moisture. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water, then pat dry with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the vinegar, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper. Bring to a simmer.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 5 tablespoons oil in a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes. (If necessary, do this in batches, using more oil as needed.)

4. Stir the eggplant into the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, stir in the olives and capers. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours, or up to 5 days.

5. Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature, with a small knife for spreading.

Buttermilk-Garlic Dip

makes about 1 cup

MAKE-AHEAD
: The dip can be made up to 3 days ahead.

G
arlicky buttermilk ranch dressing has somewhat cloudy origins. According to Jean Anderson’s
American Century Cookbook
(Clarkson Potter, 1997), it could have been invented as a dip for the fried zucchini sticks at Bobby McGee’s Restaurants in the 1980s, or it could be the brainchild of the Henson family, owners of the Hidden Valley Ranch near Santa Barbara, California. You find envelopes of ranch-style salad dressing-dip mix at the supermarket, but the recipe has to have been made from scratch at some point! Dried buttermilk powder, now a staple at most markets, gives the dip its authoritative tang without diluting the flavor of the ingredients.

what to dip
Potato chips, store-bought or homemade (page 171 or 174) • Frozen artichoke hearts, thawed • Broccoli and cauliflower florets, prepared for dipping (see page 85) • Carrot sticks • Celery sticks • Cherry tomatoes • Cucumber slices • Zucchini slices
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons dried buttermilk powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon celery seeds
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk powder in a medium bowl until the powder dissolves. Stir in the parsley, onion, garlic, thyme, celery seeds, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate to blend the flavors, at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve chilled.

Hummus bi Tahini

makes 1½ cups

MAKE-AHEAD
: The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead.

H
ummus used to be considered an exotic dish only available in college towns with Middle Eastern restaurants or delis (I ate mountains of it when I lived near Berkeley). Now you can buy hummus at the supermarket. This authentic version includes tahini, which adds a delicious nuttiness to the dip. Play around with the seasonings, adding lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and/or cayenne to suit your taste.

what to dip
Pita bread wedges • Pita Toasts (page 179) • Broccoli florets, prepared for dipping (see page 85) • Carrot sticks • Celery sticks • Cherry tomatoes • Cucumber slices • Radishes
One 15½-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, liquid reserved
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press, or more to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
Salt and ground hot red (cayenne) pepper to taste Paprika for garnish

1. Combine the beans, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and cumin in a food processor and puree. With the processor running, add ¼ cup of the oil, then enough of the bean liquid (about ¼ cup) to make the hummus smooth and fluffy. Season with salt and red pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate to blend the flavors, at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.

2. Mound the hummus in a serving bowl. Using the back of a tablespoon, make an indentation in the center, and fill it with a spoonful of oil. Sprinkle paprika over the top. Serve at room temperature.

HERBED HUMMUS
Omit the cumin. Add 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or cilantro to the hummus.
RED PEPPER HUMMUS
Puree 1 roasted, peeled, and seeded red bell pepper (see page 12) with the beans.

Wild Mushroom Caviar

makes about 2 cups

MAKE-AHEAD
: The mushroom caviar can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

U
biquitous on the appetizer menus of central Europe, mushroom caviar can be a bit predictable. In this version, a dash of dried porcini mushroom powder gives it a jolt of flavor. Cremini and shiitake mushrooms will lend an earthier taste than plain button mushrooms alone. Coarsely chop the mushrooms by hand before finely chopping in a food processor—you’ll get a more uniform result.

what to spread
Baguette slices • Crostini (page 180) • Pita bread wedges • Pita Toasts (page 179) • Cucumber slices
1 pound assorted mushrooms, such as cremini and stemmed shiitakes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried porcini mushroom powder (see page 11)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
cup finely chopped shallots
cup sour cream, plus more for garnish
teaspoon ground hot red (cayenne) pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped but not pureed.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, then stir in the lemon juice, being sure to mix well (the lemon juice prevents the mushrooms from turning dark), the mushroom powder, and dill. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until the mushrooms give off their juices and they evaporate, about 6 minutes. Stir in the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

3. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Stir in the sour cream and red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

4. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with chopped dill. Serve chilled or at room temperature, with a small knife for spreading.

BOOK: Dip It!
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