Monday, August 25, 2014

Garlic and Herb Vegetable Dip

It’s been a relatively mild summer here, but now the hot days have hit us. Days in which we count on relief in the form of refreshing, chilled food that requires little time in the kitchen. Since the football preseason is also going strong, some of us might be feeling the pressure to bring on the tailgating treats. This simple, creamy dip is just right for all of the above.

All you need to accompany this is a few fresh, crunchy vegetables: carrots, celery, bell peppers, green beans, cucumbers, etc. The basic herb formula of chives and parsley goes with everything without giving offense. And cream cheese and sour cream, well, they’re just dip, you know. They don’t have a chance of becoming dull or boring with the zip they get from a pinch of lemon zest and pretty powerful zing from fresh garlic.

Take it from someone who has thrown this simple, delicious dip together many times after misplacing the recipe, tossing in whatever herbs I have on hand, thinking I had what I needed and didn’t and therefor making emergency substitutions: there are a lot of ways you could go with this to satisfy your personal taste. You can use buttermilk, yogurt or cream in place of the sour cream. Dill and thyme are other herbs that work well. Scallions, especially the green parts, are always a good substitution for chives as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure I forgot there was garlic in this for a while and I still made good dip.

This is so easy and delicious that you’ll always want to have a bowl of it in the refrigerator, whether it’s just to fill a hunger gap when it’s too hot to cook, or to fill a gap in an epic snack spread.  (I think the recipe could be easily doubled.) Perhaps it will also make you want to have dip-able vegetables in the refrigerator at all times as well. I don’t suppose there could be anything bad about that!

Garlic and Herb Vegetables Dip
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine (November 2009)

I used reduced-fat dairy ingredients to make this dip, but I’m sure the full-fat versions would be great. I don’t recommend fat-free.

1 small clove or ½ of a medium-size clove garlic
¼ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
½ cup (4 ounces) cream cheese
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground

1. Finely chop the garlic and sprinkle with the salt. Continue to chop and press the garlic and salt together to form a paste as demonstrated in this post.

2. Place the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add the garlic-salt paste. Using an electric mixer, blend the ingredients on medium speed until very creamy and well-combined. Serve as a dip with fresh vegetables.

Makes about ¾ cup.

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