Some food, some drink.
Veggie Dip: fresh, flexible, easy.
Abstract: I've all but quit buying packaged veggie dip; and that's saying something because our household goes through a ridiculous amount of crudites (even the dog goes for baby carrots). The thing is, the stuff you buy in the dairy case (what the hell is it doing there anyway?) either doesn't taste that great, or if it does, it's waaay expensive. I've come up with a formula I've tested extensively that is not only better for you than the nasty-in-the-tub, but is also flexible enough to handle a myriad of substitutions depending on what you're serving it with. As an added bonus, given that the primary ingredient is lowfat yogurt, I'm pretty sure it leans toward the healthy side of the culinary spectrum as well.
Purpose: If there is one skeleton in the closet of healthy eating, it's that most veggies need fat. Green Beans? Bacon Grease. Broccoli? Cheese. Asparagus? Hollandaise. Artichokes? Butter and mayo. Put out a plate of raw veggies at a social gathering and you know they're not gonna get touched unless that bowl-o-ranch is your centerpiece. Our house is probably no different. I'm pretty sure my daughter thinks ranch is a food group; and I suppose that's part of the reason I decided to start rolling my own dips. Now, I can't stop. I go through a cup of this stuff in a week, and it's always in the fridge. I've made yogurt just so I can have this stuff the next day. I justify this (almost) obsessive consumption with the amount of raw veggies the house puts down in the process, along with the fact that three-fourths of this stuff is low-fat yogurt (usually homemade). This dip can be made in a myriad of permutations depending on my mood or what I'm serving it with, and makes a salad dressing that is quite hoidy-toidy (think: the expensive stuff in the jar that begins with an 'M'). The version I'm sharing today is the one that I'm presently hooked on.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Combine salt, seasoning lemon juice & vinegar in a bowl. Let stand to hydrate for at least 5 minutes (10 would be better). Whisk in mayo & yogurt. Let sit in the fridge at least 3 hours before serving; overnight would be better.
Observation: Substitutions abound with this recipe. Here are a few notables to consider:
- Going for more dressing than dip (or maybe just feeling lazy)? Don't strain the yogurt.
- That said, straining the yogurt is easy. Don't be afraid. Easiest way to 'strain' yogurt: As you first dig into your quart container, take from one side and don't stir. The next day, you can draw the thicker stuff from the opposite side of the container.
- Acids are interchangeable. Use 2 kinds of citrus or 2 different vinegars, or all of one if it's all you got.
- Mix it up with your seasonings. Yellow curry powder is da bomb with baby carrots. Garlic and herb salt-free seasoning is good too, but stay away from lemon pepper, as the end-result tastes like a mortuary smells.
- You can easily roll your own seasoning blend starting with 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, and honey, leaving that last half tsp of flavor to your imagination. I've even used Montreal Steak Seasoning in a pinch and not added any additional salt.
- If you're not counting calories, you can up the mayo to 1/3 cup. This is also a good short-cut if you don't want to strain yogurt, but want a thicker dip.
- The time for your seasonings to hydrate is pretty important. I wouldn't skip it unless you just totally can't wait. Like the recipe says, If you've got an extra 3 hours in the fridge after you bring it together, that's even better.
Results: So what can you do with this stuff besides breathing life into a tired party platter? As a sour cream-style topping, this dip is a powerhouse. Perfect on baked potatoes (try it fixed with Montreal steak seasoning). Add a twist to Mexican-night with the aforementioned lime and garlic combo. Just about every flavor concoction I've tried works as a great base to help keep the cheese in a quesadilla as well.
Best of all, this recipe is your-kids-can-do-it easy. It's an ideal device to get budding chefs in the kitchen and make them a stakeholder in the campaign to get them to eat more raw veggies. Make it fun by giving them some flavor options and then let 'em loose!