Whether you’re laying out a spread for a small gathering or simply trying to entice the kids to eat more veggies, a good dip can make a fine solution. These recipes deliver on both flavor and nutrition by using nuts, lentils, vegetables, and other whole-food ingredients.
Make your dip party a mix-and-match affair by including an assortment of dippers, like gluten-free or whole-grain crackers, pitas, and your favorite raw, crunchy veggies. And you don’t have to stop with dunking: A spoonful of dip can take a sandwich from swell to superlative or add a bite of flavor to your next grain bowl.
Whether you dip, dollop, spread, or smear, once you try these recipes, you’re sure to be coming back for more.
Kale and Chèvre Dip
Makes 2 cups | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 10 minutes
- 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed (about 3 packed cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (about 2 oz.)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 8 oz. chèvre
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the kale leaves into the boiling water and stir for one minute to blanch. Drain kale and rinse with cold water, then wring out. Place kale on a kitchen towel and roll up, pressing to dry the leaves.
- Add the garlic cloves to a food processor one at a time to mince. Add the Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt. Process until minced, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the kale and process until minced. Add the chèvre and process to incorporate, then drizzle in the olive oil with the machine still running, and process until smooth.
Muhammara is a Syrian dish that typically calls for pomegranate molasses, which can be tough to find in American grocery stores. The pomegranate-juice reduction in this recipe makes a good stand-in.
Makes 2 cups | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 20 minutes
- 1 cup pomegranate juice (or 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses)
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
- 2 tbs. lemon juice
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. red-pepper flakes (or Aleppo-style pepper)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Place the pomegranate juice in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil vigorously, reducing the heat to keep it from boiling over, for five to eight minutes. The juice should look syrupy and be reduced to about 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool. Alternatively, skip this step and use 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses.
- Place the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and process until minced. Add the peppers and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cooled pomegranate reduction (or pomegranate molasses), lemon juice, salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes, and process to mix. Drizzle in the olive oil with the machine still running, and process until smooth.
Curried Red-Lentil Dip
This dip is an homage to dal, a ubiquitous dish in Indian cuisine. The recipe calls for the lentils to be cooked like rice, which keeps them from falling apart and gives the final dish some texture.
Makes 2 cups | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 30 minutes
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbs. avocado oil or ghee
- 1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large jalapeño, seeded and minced (include the seeds for more spice)
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- In a small pot, bring the lentils and water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and have absorbed all or most of the water. Drain the lentils, if necessary, but don’t rinse. Set them aside to cool.
- While the lentils cool, place a medium pot over medium heat, then add the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the jalapeño. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the turmeric, cumin, and coriander and cook until fragrant, about another 30 seconds.
- Add the cooked lentils, salt, and lemon juice to the pot and stir to mix. If the mixture appears too thick, stir in water, a tablespoon at a time. If you’d like it thicker, keep stirring over the heat for a few minutes until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Remove mixture from the heat and stir in the mint.
A classic Lebanese dish, baba ghanoush is ideal for eggplant skeptics: Roasting the veggie mellows its natural bitterness and gives it a lush, nutty flavor.
Makes 2 1/2 cups | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 25 minutes
- 1 1/2 lb. eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 3 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the broiler and adjust the top rack of the oven so it’s 7 to 8 inches from the heat.
- Place the eggplant on a sheet pan and pierce once with a fork. Broil for five minutes, then turn it and broil for five minutes more. Turn it once more and broil five minutes longer, until the skin is well charred. Place the hot eggplant in a glass container with a lid and cover tightly to steam it. After a few minutes, remove the lid and let the eggplant cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
- Add the garlic to a food processor and process to mince. Add the cooled eggplant flesh and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the tahini, salt, and smoked paprika. Process until smooth; then, with the machine still running, pour the lemon juice through the feed tube and process until mixed.
Makes 1 1/2 cups | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 15 minutes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup brown sesame seeds
- 2 tbs. brown mustard seeds
- 2 tbs. ground coriander
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 2 tbs. peeled and sliced fresh ginger
- 2 cups cilantro, leaves and tender stems
- 1 tbs. lemon juice
- 3 tbs. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the coconut and toast until golden, about three to five minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a food processor.
- In the same pan, toast the sesame seeds until fragrant and golden brown, about three minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to the food processor and process with the coconut until finely ground.
- In the same pan, toast the mustard seeds until fragrant, about three minutes, stirring frequently. Add the ground coriander and toast for a few seconds, then immediately transfer the toasted spices to the processor with the coconut mixture. Process to grind the mustard.
- Add the jalapeño, ginger, and cilantro, and process until mixed. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and coconut milk, and process until smooth.
Dark Chocolate Yogurt Dip
Makes 2 cups | Prep time 5 minutes | Cook time 10 minutes
- 4 oz. dark chocolate (70–80 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. raspberry, almond, or other extract (optional)
- Make a double boiler by pouring an inch of water into a medium pot and placing a metal bowl on top, covering the opening but not touching the water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to low. Place a folded towel on the counter.
- Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl and stir gently until melted and smooth. Place the bowl on the folded towel and quickly add the yogurt, vanilla, and other optional extract, then whisk to mix well.
- Transfer to a storage tub and chill or serve at room temperature with sliced fruit for dipping.
This article originally appeared as “Just Dip It” in the May 2022 issue of Experience Life.