If you’re having a party, dinner guests or even just a casual dinner as usual, there is nothing more fun than having dips and spreads on the table. What you dip into the dips or what you spread the spreads on is completely up to you. Cut up raw veggies like carrots, celery, broccoli florets, bell peppers and zucchini for an amazing crudité platter. Serve chips whether you choose potato chips, rice chips or homemade crackers. Put out pita bread, naan or other flatbreads. Instead of making big bowls of dips, think about putting out little individual cups of dip so everyone can have their own and not worry about double-dipping.
Of course, dips and spreads are not just for appetizers. They make sensational side dishes and condiments. Mix them into pasta or pile them atop a baked potato. Make a lot and use it on a pizza crust instead of regular pizza sauce. Spread them on a sandwich. The possibilities are endless. Here are ten favorite dips and spreads to get you in the party mood.
1. Spinach Artichoke Dip
On our 1st anniversary, my husband and I went back to the place where we eloped and ate the most amazing “pizza chip nachos,” which were baked chips of pizza crust covered in spinach artichoke dip. I was in love! When I went vegan just months later, I had to make a vegan version of this dip. My version is super-simple and delicious.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in 20 oz. of fresh spinach for about 30 seconds, until it looks bright green. Drain and rinse the spinach under cold water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out the water and chop the spinach. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. vegan butter. Add ½ small chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and cook about 3 minutes until the onion is softened. Add 1 Tbs. flour and cook about 1 minute, stirring. You want to let the flour cook so your roux won’t taste like paste. Add 1 ½ cups non-dairy milk and whisk until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 Tbs. vegan Worcestershire sauce, ½ cup nutritional yeast or vegan grated parmesan and ½ cup vegan sour cream. Return the pot to medium heat. Add the spinach and 1 ½ cups artichoke hearts that have been drained and chopped. Mix in up to 1 cup of your favorite vegan cheese and stir until the cheese melts and the dip is thoroughly heated. If the sauce seems to thin, add more cheese. If it seems too thick, add more milk and/or sour cream. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.
For other versions of this dip, try this Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip or if you prefer, try this chunky Spinach Artichoke Dip that gets baked in the oven until the melty, bubbly dip is covered with a golden, crispy crust.
2. White Bean Dip
White bean dip is not only delicious, but it’s also healthy since it’s made with legumes. My White Bean Dip has an Italian spin to it. I saute 4 minced garlic cloves in 3 Tbs. of olive oil that has a pinch of red pepper flakes added to it. Then I add 1 ½ cups of cooked cannellini beans to the pan and season them with 1 tsp. dried sage. If you have fresh sage leaves, by all means, throw them into the pan instead. They will get crispy in the oil. Add 5 Tbs. water to the pan and cook until everything is warmed through. Transfer everything to a food processor and puree until smooth. Squeeze some lemon juice into the dip and season with kosher salt to taste.
3. Black Bean Hummus
I love chickpeas in just about every form they can take and every dish they can be used in. However, sometimes it’s fun to change things up and be different. You can make hummus out of almost anything. This Black Bean Hummus is one of my favorite versions because I give it a mild Spanish flavor with a few added ingredients.
Combine 1 ½ cups of cooked black beans, 2 Tbs. sesame tahini, 1 tsp. fresh lime juice, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. olive oil and kosher salt to taste in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure you get it all. Taste for any seasoning adjustments and enjoy.
For other variations on traditional hummus, try Red Pepper Hummus, Zucchini Hummus, Kale-Edamame Hummus, Pumpkincredible Hummus, White Bean and Roasted Yellow Pepper Hummus, Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus and Sweet Pea Hummus.
4. Red Guacamole
Everyone seems to have their own guacamole recipe. Smooth or chunky, just avocado or other ingredients added in. My favorite way to make guacamole is to add plum tomatoes for taste and texture. That is why I call it Red Guacamole. I also like to mash it by hand with a fork so it’s chunky but using a food processor is fine too. Use it for any of your favorite dishes or serve it with fresh baked tortilla chips.
Cut 2 ripe avocados in half. Remove the pits. Rinse the avocados with a bit of cool water or squirt them with lime juice to keep them from turning brown. Score the avocados into a grid with a paring knife. With a large soup spoon, carefully remove the flesh from the skins. Mash them in a bowl, leaving the avocado a little chunky. Cut the tomatoes in halves and then into quarters. With the paring knife, cut the pulp out of the tomatoes and discard. If you don’t do this step, your guacamole will be too watery. Dice up the tomatoes and add to the avocados. Add ½ minced jalapeno pepper, 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice, 1 Tbs. fresh chopped cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and taste to adjust seasonings to your liking. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For a version of guacamole made with fresh green peas instead of avocado, try this Knock-Off-Amole instead.
5. Pico de Gallo
Salsa from a jar is fine but nothing tastes better or fresher than making your own Pico de Gallo. You get to taste each ingredient and it’s the perfect topping for tortilla chips, tacos, baked potatoes or even as a salsa for tofu or seitan dishes. It’s so fast and easy to make, you may never buy jarred salsa again.
Mix 5 seeded and diced plum tomatoes, ¼ of a large Spanish onion that has been diced, 1 seeded and finely diced jalapeno pepper, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro and kosher salt and black pepper to taste and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Yup, that’s it. Just one line of directions … oops, I guess it made it 2 now.
6. Tomato Olive Tapenade
I love this topping, especially as bruschetta, served on toasted slices of Italian bread. It is a combination of olive tapenade and tomato tapenade with both flavors in one spread. For an even tangier taste, use sun-dried tomatoes in place of plum tomatoes. You can make this in a food processor or chop the ingredients by hand for a chunkier version which I prefer.
Combine ½ cup seeded and diced plum tomatoes, 1 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives, 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar, 1 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley, 1 tsp. fresh thyme and 1 minced or grated garlic clove in a bowl. If you use a food processor, just pulse it to keep the mix a bit chunky or make it as smooth as you like. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
For other ideas, check out this Olive and Kale Tapenade that tops this Raw Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich on Onion Corn Bread.
7. Queso Cheese Dip
There is no better dip for salty, crunchy chips than a spicy cheese dip. My Queso Cheese Dip is rich, spicy, vegan and addictive. This Queso cheese sauce is a perfect dip for tortilla chips or use it in other recipes such as enchiladas or vegan Tex-Mex Burgers. One of my favorite ways to use it is to spoon some over steamed broccoli for a healthy dish that is also quite zippy.
In a food processor, add 1 cup of raw cashews that have been soaked for at least 2 hours. Pulse them a few times to break them up. Add in 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup nutritional yeast, 2 cloves of garlic, ½ teaspoon each of turmeric, paprika and mustard powder and 1 cup of water. Process until you have a smooth sauce. Next we need to make a roux. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegan butter or oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and whisk it into the butter or oil. Let it cook for a minute so there is no raw flour taste. While whisking, add 1 cup of room-temperature almond milk and continue whisking until the flour is completely incorporated and smooth. Stir in the cashew mixture, 2 cups of diced tomatoes and 4 oz. of green chiles. Season the sauce with kosher salt and pepper to taste. If you want it extra spicy, add a few dashes of hot sauce. For an added smoky taste, transfer the sauce into an oven-safe dish and broil until bubbly. Yum!
8. Tahini Dip
This is the perfect dip to serve with pita bread or crisps, falafel or raw veggies. My Tahini Dip is a combination of smooth sesame, tangy lemon, pungent garlic and grassy parsley. It will definitely be one of your favorites whether you use it as a dip or thin it out for a delicious salad dressing.
Combine 1 cup sesame tahini, 3 minced garlic cloves, and 1 tsp. sea salt in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add 3 Tbs. olive oil, 1 Tbs. fresh lemon zest, and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice. Continue to blend until smooth. Add up to 1/3 cup hot water a bit at a time until you get your desired consistency. Mix in 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
9. Mushroom and Walnut Pate
While I somehow survived a Jewish upbringing without ever tasting chopped liver, I wanted to come up with my own recipe for a friend who had recently switched to a plant-based diet. I kept it very simple: just mushrooms, walnuts and spices. The whole dish takes about 15 minutes or less to prepare. You can certainly add your own spin by using different types of mushrooms, spices, lentils or whatever ingredients you prefer. This makes a wonderful appetizer or dip for parties, holidays or whenever. Oh, and instead of calling it chopped liver, it’s now Mushroom and Walnut Pate.
Put a skillet over medium heat and add 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple, add 10 oz. chopped cremini mushrooms and 1 small chopped onion to the skillet. Cook until they are browned and softened; it should take around 10 minutes. Mix in ½ tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. dried rosemary, ½ tsp. Herbes de Provence and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Don’t add salt yet as salt takes the moisture out of the mushrooms and keeps them from browning. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts, ½ tsp. kosher salt and 1 Tbs. water. Process until it’s a smooth paste. Taste for spice adjustments. I find I often have to add a pinch more of this or that until it’s just right. Refrigerate in a covered dish for a couple of hours. The flavors really intensify over time. Even better, make it the night before. The first time I made this, I tasted it right away and though it was ok. The next day I tasted it again and it was incredible. Serve with crackers or toasted bread. Yum!
10. Baba Ganoush
I love roasted eggplant! I love roasted garlic! These two loves get together to make this delicious spread. The taste is rich and decadent. And the name is fun to say.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 large eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a lightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet. Roast the garlic by placing 4 cloves on a small piece of foil and drizzle 1 tsp. of olive oil on them. Wrap the cloves in the foil and place on the baking sheet with the eggplants. Bake the eggplants until they are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. You should be able to pierce them with a fork. Let the eggplants and the garlic cloves cool. Scoop out the centers of the eggplants into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves to release the garlic from their skins and add to the eggplant. Add ¼ cup tahini, 1 tsp. ground cumin, the juice of one lemon, 1 tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. cayenne powder and 2 Tbs. of olive oil to the food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. Transfer to a bowl and mix in 1 Tbs. of fresh chopped parsley. Serve with toasted bread or pita chips. Baba Ganoush!
For more eggplant dips and spreads, try this Indian Baigan Bharta or Char Roasted Eggplant Dip, Moroccan Grilled Eggplant, Onion, and White Bean Spread, or Spicy Eggplant Caponata.
All these dips and spreads have us in the mood for a party. Try hosting a pot luck and have your guests each bring their own favorite dip or spread. No other dishes are necessary; just enjoy a buffet of dips, spreads and lots of veggies, chips and breads to eat them with. For even more ideas, check out “15 Double-Dip Worthy Vegan Dips!”
Lead Image Source: Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus