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Home » GFF (Gluten-free friendly), Gustatory Ruminations

My Super Bowl dip delivery dilemma

Submitted by on January 29, 2009 – 8:13 pmNo Comment
© Arnowssr | Dreamstime.com

© Arnowssr | Dreamstime.com

With the Super Bowl upon us, there are enough people out there offering advice on how to lighten up those buffalo wings and telling you to choose salsa over guacamole, so I will refrain from any such banalities. Instead, I thought I would share my musings on a topic near and dear to my heart: dips.

I love the dip. Ever since I tasted my first potato chip dipped in Frito Lay sour cream and onion dip back in the mid 1980s, I was hooked. I love the Mediterranean dips (hummus, babaganoush), the Latin dips (guacamole, salsa, bean dips), even those creamy non-dip foods that practically beg for something to be dipped in them (peanut butter, smoked whitefish salad).

My dilemma resides with the dip delivery systems.

Chips have so much fat on their own that they dramatically cut into my dip-eating allowance.

Crackers, pita chips or french bread slices are mostly off limits to me because of their wheat gluten content. (And if you’re still hungover from the same 2 month Halloween-to-New Year’s Eve caloriefest that I am, then they’re no friend of yours, either)

So few restaurants seem to have any vision beyond the old, standby dip-delivery systems (ho hum, pita wedges AGAIN?), which means I have to either eat hummus with a spoon (which makes me feel like Adam Sandler as the Zohan…and I don’t love it THAT much), or be left out of the dipping action altogether. Unacceptable!

I’ve decided that an ideal dip delivery system should compliment the dip either in flavor or texture without competing with it and should deliver the dip without burdening the eater with unreasonable levels of additional calories. An ideal dip delivery assortment should also be democratic, and have something for those of us who can’t eat wheat. (OK, well maybe that last one is more like catering to special interests than being a true representative democracy, but in case I end up at any of your places for the Super Bowl, I thought I’d toss it in.)

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite dip deliverers for the special dips in my life.

1. Endive
Tell me: was there ever a leaf better suited to deliver dip than crunchy, concave endive? Each boat-like leaf peels off the endive head curved and ready to hold large amounts of dips or salads. Its crisp, ever-so slightly bitter character makes it a perfect counterpart to creamy, textured and slightly sweet toppings. A classic presentation involves a sweet cheese and some sort of nut, such as cream cheese or brie and pecans or goat cheese and walnuts, but it’s also delicious topped with a fish salad, like crab salad, shrimp salad, smoked salmon salad or even tuna salad. The shape also renders it an excellent vehicle for a nice gluten-free tabbouleh, since it will keep all of the little bulgur-wheat impersonating-quinoa-grains on board as they travel mouthward. The presentation is positively elegant. Which I’m sure is a priority for that Velveeta-and-Salsa dip your boyfriend is planning to make this year.

2. Large vegetable “coins” (e.g., carrots or cucumbers)

The large carrot coin is a classier alternative to baby carrots, and along with its cousin the cucumber coin, makes an excellent option for Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dips. Cucumber is brilliant as a carrier for tangy yogurt-based dips like Tzatziki (or it’s American cousins, Ranch dressing and sour cream-based French Onion Dip). And a sturdy carrot coin will hold onto weightier dips like hummus or babaganoush with aplomb. The trick to a successful carrot coin is to buy really fat carrots, peel them, and slice them on a diagonal so that the coins are elliptical in shape instead of round. For beautiful cucumber coins, wash the cucumber and use a vegetable peeler to peel ‘stripes’ down its side before slicing.

3. Red Pepper triangles

OK, I must give full credit to Martha Stewart for coming up with this idea. She suggests serving them with an Italian relish that uses olives and proscuitto, but these sturdy and colorful triangles would also go well with anything white and creamy or cheesy, like homemade onion dip, garlicky white bean dip, or a delicious, reduced fat artichoke dip.

4. Hollowed-out cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes like to hold sharp-flavored, thick or pasty-textured dips, like cheese spreads, cream cheese-based dips, creamy smoked whitefish salad, or even a guacamole. Their mild flavor allows the dips’ strong flavor to take center stage. Since they’re small, they’ll naturally limit the portions of these fattier dips; and since they’re fat-free, they won’t add additional calories to an already-indulgent filling. Plus, they look super cute when arranged on a platter. If you like your foods a little bit more picante, a stuffed pepadew pepper would create a similar effect as a stuffed cherry tomato with a bit more kick. The clever people at Whole Foods suggest filling cherry tomatoes with a beautiful green edamame hummus. How could I argue with that?

5. Nut Thins
Sometimes, the occasion calls for a bona fide cracker. So thank you, nice people at Blue Diamond, for making a gluten-free cracker that looks and tastes like a cracker and isn’t just a flavorless puff of rice. Nut thins are really delicious crackers made from ground almonds (or other nuts) and rice, and are a versatile carrier for most any dip, as well as a perfect cheese-and-crackers cracker. Even better, each generous 16-cracker serving has only 2.5g of fat and a reasonable 130 calories; which is on par with reduced fat Wheat Thins or the equivalent of 7 reduced fat Triscuits. They’re widely distributed and, unlike many gluten-free crackers, they’re priced similarly to normal crackers. Touchdown!

6. The nouveau Tortilla chip

Lastly, we come to the trusty tortilla chip. Surely by now you’ve noticed that the tortilla chip category has exploded, with new riffs on the classic that range from baked to blue, multigrain to flavored. These are clearly the most versatile dip deliverer of all, and one of the most addictive. I try to pick organic ones made from non-GMO corn with no added preservatives. Baked are a smarter choice, though truth be told, the fried ones taste much better to me, so I’d rather just eat less of them and enjoy them. That’s a matter of personal preference. The multigrain ones are usually quite tasty, but ignore the marketing hype about them being a good source of omega-3’s due to their flaxseed content. Flaxseed coats are pretty darn resilient, and most of those whole seeds will make it all the way through your digestive system totally unscathed.

So there you have it. I am officially ready for the Super Bowl. Now: can someone please tell me who’s playing this year?

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