Dip In: My Favorite Dips, Sauces and Spreads

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Below I have created a list (and links) to my favorite dips, sauces and spreads. So go ahead, dip in and enhance your meals with these simple recipes. The best news of all… every single one of these recipes is vegan and gluten free for those who have any dietary restrictions!

1. Pesto. My husband and I are obsessed with pesto. It is not an exaggeration when I say that we put it on everything! Bread, eggs, sauteed veggies, pasta, salad dressings, pizza, etc. I usually just whip up some of this homemade pesto once a week and let it sit in the fridge for us to find the lucky item to put it on. It is oh-so good and fresh.

Pesto

2. Hummus. I put pesto on pretty much everything and I put hummus on almost everything. I love to add a heaping spoonful to a salad, use as a spread for a sandwich and of course have with veggies or crackers when I need an afternoon pick me up.

Hummus… 

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Crispy Polenta Stars with Pesto

Polenta Stars

My dear and very classy friend Alli hosts an Oscar party every year. She pulls out all the stops, red carpet included, so amongst our group of friends it is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year! That being said, there is no question that each year, I am thinking far in advance about what I can bring to this star studded affair. Sometimes it is fun to theme your appetizer or drink to the nominees but this is one that you can use year after year. By the way, you can check out Alli’s blog here. Beware, it will change your life!

Crispy Polenta Stars with Pesto
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups soy milk or water
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Fine Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup polenta or fine yellow cornmeal
  • Pesto
  • Homemade recipe can be found here
  • Garnish
  • Pine nuts or shaved parmesan
Instructions
  1. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper, and cut another piece of parchment to the same size.
  2. Place the milk or water, thyme, rosemary, and garlic in a pot over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl; discard the garlic and herbs. Return the milk to the pot and place it over low heat. Add the polenta in a slow stream while you whisk it in vigorously with the other hand. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until smooth.
  3. Pour the polenta into the prepared cake pan, and spread it out in an even ½-inch-think layer. Cover with the other piece of parchment and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Cut the chilled polenta into 20 rounds with a star shaped cookie cutter.
  4. Meanwhile prepare pesto according to directions.
  5. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and saute polenta stars until slightly crispy on either side. Top with pesto and garnish of your choice.

Notes: You can always use premade tube version if you don’t have time or don’t want to make your own.

Vegan Basil Pesto

Pesto

I’ve always kind of liked pesto but ever since the first time I made it from scratch, I’ve literally been obsessed with it. The smell of the fresh basil is unreal and it definitely tastes as good as it smells!

Vegan Basil Pesto
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ⅔ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while food processor is running until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: This recipe does not have cheese, which is the taste I prefer but you can add 1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast.

Photo courtesy of Writing in Circles.

 

Best Brussels Sprout Recipe

Since discovering this recipe, I switched from the person who used to avoid brussels sprouts into the person who seeks them out whenever they are in season. Anytime I’ve made this, I have had several people ask me for the recipe. This one is a keeper!

Average time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients

4 Tbsp olive oil, more as needed

12 medium french shallots (approx 2 cups), thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

2 lbs brussel sprouts, ends removed and sliced in half

4 Tbsp pine nuts

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. In a large saute pan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, stir 1 minute or until fragrant.

2. Add brussel sprouts, increase heat to medium-high and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts and drizzle with lemon juice.

Serving Suggestion: I’ve also added in some spicy paprika (approximately 1-2 Tbsp, depending on your liking for spice). You can add this in immediately after adding brussel sprouts.

Photo Credit: Real Simple