Food & Drink

Unlikely flavors mix and mingle in party dips

Caramelizing the onions and fennel is a slow process, but it’s time well spent: They add intense flavor.
Caramelizing the onions and fennel is a slow process, but it’s time well spent: They add intense flavor. Linda Xiao

These creamy dips may taste indulgent, but their decadence comes from clever ingredient swaps and smart techniques — not loads of fat or salt. Rich avocado, tangy feta and caramelized onions are just a few of the healthy (and transformative) additions. So at your next gathering, go ahead and dip with abandon!

For more recipes and additional tips, visit www.marthastewart.com. Questions or comments should be sent to: askmartha@marthastewart.com.

Labneh dip with caramelized onions and fennel

This standout uses labneh, a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese; it’s also great served with grilled chicken or lamb, atop a baked potato or in an egg scramble.

Serves 8

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions, such as Vidalia, chopped (3  1/2 cups)
  •  1/2 bulb fennel, cored and chopped (1  1/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • Coarse salt
  •  1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 container (16 ounces) labneh or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced ( 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Vegetable chips, crackers or crudités, for serving

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium in a large skillet. Add onions, fennel, thyme and  1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often until dark brown, about 45 minutes. (If necessary, add a splash of water to keep onions from sticking.) Add sherry and Worcestershire; cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely.

2. Stir together labneh, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Spread onto a plate; top with onion mixture. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with more thyme and serve, with chips, crackers or crudités.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 124 calories, 6 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 3 milligrams cholesterol, 62 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 47 percent of calories from fat.

Whipped hearts of palm and feta dip

Tangy feta makes this flavorful dip great as a spread for a grilled-vegetable sandwich, too.

Serves 6

  • 4 ounces feta, preferably sheep’s-milk, drained
  • 1 can (14 ounces) hearts of palm, drained, rinsed and chopped
  • Coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped, plus more for serving
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, for serving
  • Crostini, for serving

1. Purée feta, hearts of palm, salt, oil and 1 tablespoon water in a food processor until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add dill; pulse just to combine.

2. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Sprinkle with cayenne and more dill; serve with crostini.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 178 calories, 11 grams fat, 18 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 17 milligrams cholesterol, 220 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 52 percent of calories from fat.

Avocado ranch dip

Grown-ups and kids alike will love this spin on the traditional ranch dip. Thin it with a little water and it can also dress a salad.

Serves 8

  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 avocado (8 ounces), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, tarragon, basil, cilantro and parsley), plus more for serving
  • Crudités, for serving

1. Using a flat side of a knife, mash garlic with  1/2 teaspoon salt until a paste forms. Transfer to a food processor with avocado, vinegar, buttermilk, mustard, oil,  1/2 teaspoon salt and  1/4 teaspoon pepper; purée until smooth. Add herbs; pulse just to combine.

2. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Sprinkle with more herbs and serve with crudités.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 83 calories, 7 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 1 milligram cholesterol, 43 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 76 percent of calories from fat.

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