Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Delicious Dips

Laying out a tasty dip with vegetable sticks, crisps and pita bread for guests to enjoy before dinner is an easy way to get out of making a starter and a great social way to start the evening. I find that most shop-bought dips have ingredients that I either can't eat (garlic etc) or don't like. Plus, the question is always in my mind whether there is any real nutritional value in something that has so many chemical preservatives in it that it can be kept unopened in the cupboard for up to a year! Here are 2 dips that are extremely easy to make, require minimal ingredients and create that wow factor for your guests with little effort from you.

Avocado Dip
The easiest one of all, all you need is:
1 ripe avocado
3 cherry tomatoes
Juice from half a lemon
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper (I don't put pepper!)

1. Mash the avocado in a bowl
2. Dice the tomatoes and stir into the avocado
3. Add salt and pepper
4. Add lemon juice and mix well
5. Stir in finely chopped parsley
6. If you don't eat it immediately, store it in the fridge

You can add cream cheese (Philadelphia) to make the dip go further and you would mix this into the avocado before adding the tomatoes.
To make it more of a Mexican-style Guacamole, you can also add finely chopped chilli peppers to give it a real kick.

It takes minutes to dish out this fabulous-tasting dip. One thing to bear in mind is that this should be made as close to your guests arriving as possible since avocado does go brown quite quickly. If you keep the avocado stone in the dip and keep it covered then this should help stop it browning so quickly.


I've seen recipes for hummus that have huge long lists of ingredients and so I always thought this was quite complicated to make. That was until I found a recipe for it in a book called 'Just Four Ingredients' by Joanna Farrow and I realised that actually this is another very simple dip to make. It is a little more effort than avocado dip because you end up with more washing up but the chick peas make this is a nutritious, high protein snack and living in the Middle East it seems wrong not to be able to whip together this quintessential Arabian dish.

400g tin of chick peas - Chick peas don't appeal to me as they are, but in hummus they are fabulous
4 tbsp tahini paste (sesame seed paste)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves (of course I never put these in and it tastes just as good without them)
Half tsp paprika to give it a slight kick - more if you want it spicier
Salt to taste

1. Drain the chick peas thoroughly and blend in a food processor with the garlic
2. Add the tahini paste to the chick peas and blend
3. Add the lemon juice and blend to a smooth paste - if it is still quite solid then add 1 tbsp olive oil or cold water at a time until the consistency is thick but smooth
4. Stir in the paprika and salt
5. Serve at room temperature with some paprika and sesame seeds sprinkled on top for presentation

A fantastic addition to the traditional hummus above is to add roasted bell peppers after you mix in the tahini paste. You can use any colour but red peppers will give a lovely red colour to the dip and they are higher in vitamin C than yellow or orange peppers. The juice from the peppers will also help give you the perfect hummus consistency. Cook them before you start making the hummus so they have time to cool down a bit.

1. Cut the pepper into slices
2. Heat olive oil in a pan over high heat then add the pepper slices
3. Cover the peppers but keep shaking the pan so they don't stick
4. Cook for about 10 minutes until the peppers look a bit char-grilled but are soft
5. Let them cool slightly before adding them to the hummus


  1. I so agree about dips in a jar - not appetising and the healthy, fresh alternatives are so easy to make.

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