Posts from the ‘Dip’ Category


I love pesto! If a restaurant has a dish that includes pesto, I often have a difficult time resisting the urge to order it (unless the meal has lots of gluten or dairy in it, like cheesy pasta). Like curry, it’s a mixture. Although Italian basil pine nut pesto with Parmesan or Romano cheese is the most popular, there are several different varieties consisting of all kind of herb and spice combinations, however unlike curry, the flavorful mixtures are much simpler. Pesto recipes are rather adjustable, too; you can make them however you like. They can be oil-based, cream-based, oil-free and made into sauces or spreads. Most recipes either include nuts, cheese or both with leafy herbs and oil. You can put them on vegetables, bread, crackers, pasta, grains, salads, etc.

My favorite way to make pesto that’s healthier for you is with lots of soaked nuts and greens, a bit of oil and sometimes nutritional yeast. It’s easy to make. You just soak and rinse the nuts, trim the greens, add a couple more ingredients, and grind it all up in a food processor or blender. That’s it. Here’s the cashew-based basil pesto recipe I posted earlier, which also Includes carrot greens. I used to make it without carrot greens until I learned that they are so nutritious, containing lots of vitamins and minerals, like potassium and vitamin K to name a few. Carrot greens are also a good source of chlorophyll.

Here are some other pesto recipes that I’m eager to try out. You can “veganize” the recipes that have cheese by substituting with nutritional yeast or leaving out the cheese and yeast.

Cashew Basil Pesto With VeggiesVegan Pesto Recipes
Pine Nut Pesto

Kale Walnut Meyer Lemon Pesto

Kale Chickpea and Asparagus Pesto

Kale Basil Pesto with Nutritional Yeast

Broccoli Stem Pesto

Asian Pesto Sauce

Swiss Chard Pesto

Roasted Eggplant & Almond Pesto

Mixed Herb Pesto

Sage Pesto

Thai Lemongrass Pesto

Red Pepper Pesto

Sweet Pea Pesto

Spirulina Pesto with White Miso

Vegetarian Pesto Recipes (contain cheese)
Almond & Thyme Pesto

Lemon Thyme Chive Spinach Pesto

Watercress Pesto

Avocado Spinach Pesto

Garlic Scape & Sorrel Pesto

Artichoke Lemon Pesto

Three Basil Pesto

Arugula Pesto

Lemon Verbena Pesto

Roasted Shallot and Tarragon Pesto

Collard Green Olive Pesto

Dill Pesto

Carrot Pesto

Other Pesto Recipes
Coriander Pesto (contains fish sauce)

Which kind of pesto do you make? What do you eat it with?

Cashew Basil Pesto

One of the tasty vegetable dips I made for Thanksgiving was a cashew-based basil pesto that I adapted from a carrot top pesto recipe I found earlier this year. I use green leafy carrot tops, which are chalk full of vitamins, minerals and protein, in salads, soups, dressings and all sorts of things. I feel it’s a waste to just pitch them out with the compost. There are whole recipes focused around them.

Cashew Basil Pesto with Carrot Greens
5 cups dip

2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Filtered Water, more as needed
Pinch Sea Salt, to taste
2 – 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled, trimmed
2 cups Fresh Italian or Californian Basil, stemmed
2 cups Fresh Carrot Greens, stemmed
1 cup Cashews, soaked, rinsed, dehydrated
1/4 cup Almond or Cashew Butter
OR 1/2 cup Cashews, soaked, rinsed, dehydrated
1/4 – 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast, optional

In a food processor, combine liquids, salt and garlic. Add in basil and carrot greens and puree. Mix with cashews until they form crumbs. Add the nut butter or more nuts with nutritional yeast. Pour in more water if needed. Puree until smooth.

Since I have an allergy to whey and an intolerance to lactose, I decided to add a bit of cheesy flavor by using nutritional yeast, which is a common ingredient in some dairy free and vegan foods that provides a cheese-like flavor. If you want to use dairy cheese, you can substitute for Romano or Parmesan directly. To me, cashews are rather mild and tend to easily take on flavors of other ingredients. Pine nuts are more pricy, and I did happen to have a bunch of cashews in my cupboards ready to go. This dip is rather thick, due to the sheer amount of nuts in it, which you can reduce it if you like for more of a sauce or dressing consistency (3 to 6 tablespoons) for pasta, vegetables, salad, etc. You can also follow my recipe below and then dilute it as you need to. I used it yesterday as a sandwich spread with turkey leftovers, kale, avocado, heirloom tomato and Dijon mustard on dark rye. It was so scrumptious!

Hummus and Veggies

For Thanksgiving, my parents, brother, grandmother, mother-in-law and father-in-law came over to our place; there were eight of us. For some reason I was majorly stressing about not having enough food, so I guess you can say I got prepared to feed an army. I bought artichoke hearts, two kinds of olives, two kinds of pickles, two kinds of radishes, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, four kinds of carrots (two of which I could eat), two kinds of corn chips, two kinds of salsa, three kinds of sparkling cider, two kinds of roasted nuts, two kinds of dried figs, creamy onion dip and that’s not all.

I made hummus with Spanish hot paprika, red bell pepper hummus with Californian sweet paprika, baba ghanouj with white and black sesame seeds and purple sumac, and cashew basil pesto. My parents also made guacamole with IMO sour cream. My dad brined a turkey for us, and my in-laws made a roast ham. I was going to make two vegetarian gravies, but during family team building exercise of preparing chestnuts, we decided to only make one. Thankfully I was able to combine the recipes. We successfully sauteed the massive amount (but not all) of green beans and made a tasty rice outside-the-bird stuffing. I was going to make a pumpkin pie and an apple-quince pie from scratch, but as you may have guessed, I did not have time. It’s a good thing I didn’t make them though, since my in-laws brought three pies and ice cream.

Phew! That’s a ton of food! It was quite an exciting day here (so sorry for the blurry pictures). I still have a significant number of leftovers that I have made quite a dent in by eating and feeding to other people. There were many many recipes involved over the several days before, during and after the festivities. I am so grateful to my family. All of us participated in putting together our feast, even Grandma. To cut down on post length, I’m splitting up the Thanksgiving recipe line up into a few different posts. Right now, I’ll give you the from-scratch hummus recipes. Thankfully they are pretty easy and quick.

After reading Judy Kingsbury’s article, “Beans Without Gas” over at Savvy Vegetarian, I decided to learn how to properly prepare and cook beans to avoid possible digestive issues, especially since my digestive system is so sensitive. That means no more canned beans, so I decided to make my hummus this time from scratch. Check out the article. It has a very helpful soaking and cooking chart. The recipes I used are adaptations to the hummus recipe from “The Best Recipes in the World”, by Mark Bittman on Epicurious.

8 or more

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lemon, juice of
2 tsp or 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled
Pinch Sea Salt, to taste
1/4 tsp Black Peppercorns, ground to taste, optional
2 cups Garbanzo Beans, soaked, rinsed, cooked
1/2 cup Tahini (Sesame Seed) Paste
1/4 cup Parsley, freshly chopped garnish
1 tablespoon Spanish Hot Paprika, more for garnish
White or Black Sesame Seeds, optional garnish

Sort the beans and discard any bean bits and pebbles. Rinse your beans. Cover them in twice as much water, since the beans will double in size. Soak the beans in just water overnight. (Adding salt prevents the fibers from softening. I think I soaked mine a day and an half to be on the safe side.) Cook the beans in just water between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the beans are soft.

In food processor, combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix in the beans and then the tahini. Adjust your salt and pepper levels as you like. Remember you are adding paprika, too. Spoon out half of the mixture. Mix in the paprika. Set this mixture aside.

Evenly spread out the set-aside hummus in a bowl from the center. Place the parsley in the middle. Sprinkle the hummus with paprika around the edge. If want, sprinkle sesame seeds around the parsley.

Red Bell Pepper Hummus
Serves 4 or more

1/2 Hummus Recipe (above)
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Californian Sweet Paprika, more for garnish
Parsley, freshly chopped
White or Black Sesame Seeds, optional garnish

With half of the plain hummus batch still in the food processor, mix in the bell pepper and paprika. This batch will be thinner than the first batch, but that’s okay. Spread the hummus evenly in a serving bowl. Garnish as you did with the other bowl of hummus, this time with the sweet paprika.

There are several different types of paprika available: Californian, Spanish, Hungarian and mixes. Each region’s paprika comes in hot and sweet. Make sure you taste the different varieties before buying them. They are all quite distinct in flavor. I tasted all of the varieties in the paprika section at the local downtown herb and spice store, Savory Spice Shop, before I made up my mind on which ones to use for the hummus.

Garlicy Baba Ghanouj

I really enjoy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods and have for absolutely years. I love medleys of flavors and the aromatic spices. In addition, I really like healthy dips and palate-exciting ways to eat my fruits and veggies. Baba ghanouj (and it’s many spellings and cultural significances) is nutritious and delicious. Enjoy it as a dip or condiment (such as a delicious sandwich spread). You can eat it along side hummus, or go all out with a big Mediterranean mezzeh platter of dolma, falafel, kubba, tabbouleh, shawarma, cheese, figs, melon, artichokes, yogurts, fattoush, green salad, etc. Yum, yum! Has anyone made baba ghanouj into a salad dressing? Let me know if you try it out this way. How do you eat it? What version of the recipe do you use?

The other day I made baba ghanouj with sonomafoodgirl. (Thank you so much for helping!) I’m so glad we finally made it. I had intended to for a while, since my last batch turned out so well. The Hummus Guy at the farmers market is always sold out when I want it, so I gave up on waiting. It’s probably cheaper to make my own anyway. My version is inspired by Denise Hajibrahim’s recipe on You Tube.

I added a lot more garlic though and just mixed everything together to store in in jars instead of plating it to serve and eat right away. Both of the methods described below are really easy. The most time consuming bit is waiting for the eggplant to finish cooking.

Garlicy Baba Ghanouj
This dip is also called baba ghanoush, baba ganush, baba ghannouj, and baba ghannoug, depending on which region the batch is from (or who makes it).

4 Medium to 6 Large Cloves Raw or Roasted Garlic, minced
Pinch Sea Salt
1/2 C Lemon Juice
1 C Tahini Paste (Sesame Seed Butter)
2 Medium Eggplants
3 T Olive Oil, garnish
4 T Sesame Seeds, garnish
3 T Parsley, chopped garnish
2 T Smoked or Sweet Paprika or Ground Chili, garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap in foil. Bake for 30 minutes to 40 minutes or until soft. Set aside for 15 minutes. Be patient. Be careful not to burn yourself. The eggplant is still very hot. Unwrap them. Cut off the tops. Peel off the skins with either a fork or your fingers, but try not to peel away the tasty goodness just beneath the skin. Cut the flesh into chunks for easier blending.

In food processor or in a mixing bowl with a fork, combine garlic and salt. Mix in lemon juice and tahini until well combined. Add in eggplant and process or mash together until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the middle of a large plate or shallow dish. Spread it evenly from the center in a circular motion with a spoon by simultaneously turning it.
If using a plate, create a moat in a circle around a center “island” with the back of the spoon. Just fill the space. It doesn’t not have to be symmetrical; wobbly ovals and ellipses are just as tasty. If you don’t like the way it looks though, you can always smooth it out and start over.
For a shallow dish, use the spoon to evenly spread it out and fill in all of the corners.
Garnish the middle with parsley. Sprinkle paprika around edge of the dip. Pour the oil into the well you created earlier or drizzle it across the top.

These are only two ways to serve the dip. You can always decorate in different patterns or shapes. There are also many flavor variations of baba ghanouj out there with different herbs and spices, like chile powder, cayenne pepper, smoky/sweet paprika, cilantro, flat or curly parsley, mild/strong/sweet garlic, cumin, coriander; it’s your choice really. Keep in mind there are also varieties of eggplant, too. You also can always forgo decorating entirely, merely processing everything together and mixing the garnishes in last, or leave out the garnish herbs and spices completely.