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Sometimes you try a recipe and it immediately turns into a favourite. That happened this summer, when I served spinach pesto for the Italian Kookgrrls Cookalong.

I made it several times since and always to a great success. It came to a garden potluck and we spooned it out as a starter at a special dinner for my mother-in-law and one of her friends. The verdict is unanimous: this dish is GOOD!

So here’s the recipe, translated and slightly adapted from the Dutch vegetarian cookbook Gezond genieten: Mediterraan koken by Jan & Ineke Stevens.

Spinach pesto

Spinach Pesto with Olive Crackers (1st Kookgrrls Cookalong: Italy)

Ingredients

  • 300g clean fresh spinach
  • 2 tbs pine nuts
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh basil
  • salt & pepper
  • a good variety of olive oil (extra virgin)

When it’s still wet from washing, put the spinach in a saucepan and cook the leaves on high for a couple of minutes while turning them over a few times — until welted but still bright green. Drain thoroughly.

Blend the cooked spinach together with the garlic (it’s best to start with one clove and add more if necessary), pine nuts and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slowly add the olive oil until the pesto has a smooth consistency. Using a good type of oil improves the taste!

Now that’s easy, isn’t it?

This spinach spread is good with toast, crudités, as a side dish, on a sandwich and probably with pasta. And it’s perfect for bentos!

Courgette Flower Bento #193

Courgette Flower Bento #193

Summer Picnic Bento #191

Summer Picnic Bento #191

Bulghur Bento #190

Bulghur Bento #190

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Four Dutch tweeps -slash- foodie bloggers have teamed up to share some dips & spreads with you for New Year’s Eve.

Chinoiseries is serving us Roasted Cauliflower Dip (vegetarian with vegan suggestion)
JannyAn shares some Nutty Blue Cheese Spread (vegetarian; post in Dutch)
Uniflame is spooning out Bean Paté (vegetarian with vegan suggestion)
And me?

Mediterrenean Carrot Spread

The recipe that I’d like to share is a super easy, vegan dip that I’ve made several times now and is always a hit with vegetarians, flexitarians and omnivores alike: Mediterranean carrot spread.

I dedicate this post to Uniflame who seems to be at a loss with all the carrots among her CSA vegetables. ;)

Mediterranean Carrot Dip

Mediterrenean Carrot Spread

Ingredients

  • 250 grams carrots, cleaned and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar)
  • 1 small garlic clove (or half a big one)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper / harissa / sambal
  • salt & pepper
  • optional: salty black olives

Also handy: a (hand) blender

Preparation

  1. Thoroughly cook the carrots on either your stove (about 20 minutes) or in microwave (4 minutes on 700 Wt). Drain.
  2. Blend (or mash) together carrots, olive oil, lemon juice (or vinegar), cumin and garlic.
  3. Add harissa (cayenne/sambal) and salt ’n peppa to taste.
  4. Let it completely cool down.
  5. Serve as a side dish or mezze, with Turkish pide bread, Italian ciappe, melba toast, veggies or whatever. It’s nice -but not necessary at all- to garnish this dip with salty black olives.

If you’ve got a few minutes left before you need to get ready for your s-mashing End of Year Party: grab some carrots and throw together this nice snack!

This spread can easily be made a day in advance but after 48 hours it gets too watery. Not that you’ll have any leftovers for that long! ;)

Now I highly recommend you hop over to the other participants’ recipes (links above)! :)

AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!!

Check out other food-related posts at Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking!

Also submitted to Kookgrrl’s December theme: Food to share,

& Zesty Palette’s New ‘U’ Event.

Button New "U" Event

Friday’s bento was like a salad buffet.

It contained some more of those delicious Neapolitan beans, a summer salad of fresh ‘kapucijner’ peas (what is the correct English word?) field peas, tomato & herbs, and a yoghurt-garlic dip with veggies. Some extra parsley because of that :)

On the side a fruit salad of peaches and opal plums.

Without that tiny bit of dip sauce this bento would have been entirely vegan. But the white does make it look better, right? ;) Although I admit the picture isn’t too great — it was really late when I made it!

Here’s the recipe for the tzatziki that I took in bento #58. I’ts really easy to make and tastes great. A fresh dish that will make you think of vacation on any summer day!

dilleIngredients

  • 1 organic cucumber
  • salt
  • 3,5 dl Greek yoghurt
    (I like it full-cream)
  • 1 piece of garlic
    (2 if you wish)
  • 2 table spoons of olive oil (extra virgine)
  • pepper
  • 2 table spoons of fresh dill (finely cut); see Gnoe’s tip for cutting herbs below!

Preparation
Wash and roughly grate the cucumber (including the skin). Because you’re not peeling the cuke, it’s really best to use organic! Put in a colander, sprinkle with salt en put a weight on it for half an hour. I often use a saucer and small pan filled with water to weigh something down.

In the meantime crush the garlic. Mix yoghurt with garlic, olive oil, dill and pepper to taste (blend by mixing). When the cucumber is ready it can be added to the mixture.

You can make tzatziki a while in advance if it’s kept refrigerated.

Use
Use as a starter or side dish with salad and black olives (think mezze!), as vegetable dip, for a picnic or buffet — you can even put it on your sandwhich, but it will get soggy ;) I like to serve it with Turkish pide bread.

To give you an idea of the quantity: it’s about 4 servings as entree.

Gnoe’s tip for cutting herbs
An easy way to cut dill (or parsley) is putting the leaves in a cup and snip-snap with your kitchen scissors! You can’t use this method for all herbs though; e.g. basil leaves should be torn to allow their fragrances to appear.

Last but not least: I like the smoothness of a tzatziki that’s low on garlic but some people might want to use 2 pieces of garlic :-o In that case, remember my post with natural tips against garlic smell ;)

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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