Triple dipper

| 31 Dec 2013 | 03:15

We learn the pleasure of dipping food early on – fries in ketchup, pretzels in mustard, potato pancakes in applesauce. There’s something very basic but satisfying about dipping crunchy finger foods into creamy condiments or dips.

Hummus, the Mediterranean blend of chickpeas and tahini, has become mainstream healthy eating for lots of folks and is a staple in my fridge. But after an evening of marathon dip experimenting I discovered new favorites, made without mayo, sour cream, cheese or unhealthy fats. Pureed beans, seeds or nuts and raw or steamed vegetables give these dips both creaminess and loads of nutrients. When using seeds or nuts, soak them in cold water for at least two hours to plump them, resulting in a smoother dip. Fresh, local ingredients deliver the best flavor, so it’s worth the extra effort to source kale, hardy turnips, carrots, radishes and other roots at farms that are open throughout the winter. These root vegetables serve a dual role – ingredients in the dip as well as sturdy, crunchy dippers.

All three recipes can be pulled together in minutes by combining ingredients you already have on hand. The cauliflower curry has a light velvety texture while the carrot sunflower and white bean kale are heartier and can also double as sandwich spreads. Spices like curry and cumin and a splash of fresh lemon give these dips the bold flavors that keep you going back for more. Serve with thick slices of raw veggies and pita chips.

Carrot Sunflower Seed Dip

Makes 1 1/2 cups

5 medium size carrots

½ cup raw hulled sunflower seeds, soaked in cold water for 2 hours and rinsed

1 small clove garlic

¼ teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons carrot cooking water

Peel and slice carrots into half inch chunks. Add to boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, reserve cooking liquid and set aside to cool. In a blender or food processor chop sunflower seeds and garlic until fine. Add carrots, cumin, salt and cooking water. Continue to puree or process until creamy

Cauliflower Cashew Curry Dip

Makes 1 ½ cups

1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in cold water for minimum 2 hours and rinsed

2 tablespoons water

3 cups cauliflower florets, steamed until fork tender

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil

Steam cauliflower in a saucepan for approximately 10 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside to cool.

Place cashews and water in a blender and puree. Add cauliflower and remaining ingredients and puree until creamy.

White Bean and Kale Dip

Makes 1 ½ cups

2 cups cooked cannellini beans

1 medium clove garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 cup kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

Place beans, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse until beans are broken up. With motor running, drizzle in olive oil. Add lemon juice, water and puree until smooth. Add kale and process until kale is combined with the other ingredients.