Thursday, June 10, 2010

Expanding My Dip-ertoire

Each year, when I get this lovely asparagus in our CSA box, I can hardly decide what to do with it. To me, it seems to be great in anything, on anything and with anything, so I probably can’t go wrong. With that no-fail attitude I faced a new recipe recently, one for an asparagus and goat cheese spread or dip.

Even thought I hadn’t tried them together myself, I’d seen enough recipes that paired asparagus and goat cheese to be fairly confident that they would work and play well with each other. Sure, it’s all a matter of taste, but a combination wouldn’t be repeated in the literature so many times if it wasn’t a good one, would it? (Okay, I’ve seen beets with blue cheese plenty of times, too, so maybe this line of thinking doesn’t quite extend to infinity.)

Another thing that was new to me in this recipe was the use of silken tofu to provide the creamy base of the dip, where I usually might see sour cream or mayonnaise. Now, I often am at least a little bit skeptical of replacing familiar and traditional ingredients with something healthy or trendy or something my dad would think is weird. But I know tofu well enough to know its flavor is pretty neutral and silken tofu is pretty darn smooth and creamy. It should, if figured, help to make a smooth and creamy dip.

Thanks to the food processor, this dip/spread is fairly simple. Just cook the asparagus with some garlic (I did that in the microwave) and puree it with the goat cheese, silken tofu, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. And it tastes good, too, as long as you like asparagus and goat cheese. Their flavors do indeed compliment each other to the point where I would taste and think, “There is the asparagus, no, wait, that was the goat cheese,” and then taste it again and again. I served it with homemade crackers. (Really!…I hope to post that recipe soon.) You could serve it with your favorite dip-ables.

I think this recipe will be a good addition to my spring dip repertoire (or dip-ertoire) and the use of silken tofu in dips is something I’m sure I’ll be repeating. Maybe I’ll even try it out on my dad. If I don’t tell him there’s soy bean curd in his dip, he’ll never know it’s weird. Then again, the man eats peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwiches, so may not really be qualified to make such a judgment.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Dip
Based on a recipe in Vegetarian Times magazine

¾ pound asparagus, tough ends removed, chopped
½ teaspoon salt, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
6 ounces silken tofu
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1. Place the asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, garlic and water in a microwave-safe container. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the wrap. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave and let stand, covered, for about 10 minutes. Very carefully (there will be steam escaping) remove the plastic wrap. Cool another 10 minutes (or longer. You can refrigerate the asparagus a day ahead.)

2. Remove the asparagus and garlic from the steaming water and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a coarse paste is formed. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, tofu, goat cheese, pepper and thyme. Process until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl if necessary.

3. Chill before serving if you have time. (I didn’t and it was still delicious.)

Makes about 2 cups

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