Why is dipping food into other food so much fun?! If I like the dipping instrument and the dipping matter, I could probably be completely content for hours on end just taking a chip, dipping it into something creamy, taking a carrot, dipping it into something spicy, taking a strawberry, dipping it into a pool of melted chocolate … whoever invented dipping was seriously a genius.
And dips are laughably easy to make, too. The creamy harissa one in this post, for example, is as simple as stirring together harissa and yogurt, with maybe a bit of mayo thrown in there for good measure. That’s it! And it tastes four times as good as a creamy harissa dip you might purchase at the store – complete with a bunch of “dehydrated milk powder” and other random ingredients they have to throw in there so it doesn’t go bad while it’s waiting to be purchased. Making dips at home is definitely the way to go – both in terms of quality and taste and in terms of your wallet. (Extra points if you decide to make your own harissa too – I buy a really good brand that’s cost effective and doesn’t have any yuck ingredients in it so I just used that.)
How do you make a fabulous dip? Easy. Just think about what ingredients might go well together, then mix ’em up. If your dip doesn’t quite pop, you might need to add some acid (lemon, lime, vinegar, etc.) and if it doesn’t taste quite balanced, try adding a tiny bit of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.) If you want your dip to be creamy, you can use sour cream, mayo, yogurt, avocado, hemp seeds, etc. For spice, throw in some cayenne or some kind of spice paste (like harissa or Asian chili paste). Spicy components go great with creamy or sweet elements, and sweet components go great with sour ones. Experiment and have fun!
To get you started, today I’m sharing a trio of dips that would be perfect to take with you on a Father’s Day picnic – or any other kind of picnic – or to eat on your front porch, balcony, etc. We’ve got the aforementioned spicy, creamy harissa dip; a savory, protein-packed avocado-hemp dip; and a deliciously refreshing mango-poblano. That last one has some fresh tomatillo, basil, lime, and cumin in it as well and is the perfect counterpart to the savory avocado and spicy harissa.
A couple notes about the recipe:
-Be sure to use good quality ingredients for these dips: your mango should be ripe and juicy, your yogurt should be rich and creamy, etc.
-The avocado and mango dips are vegan; the harissa one could be made vegan by using vegan yogurt/mayo. For those who are sensitive to lactose, I actually used a non-vegan lactose-free yogurt to make the harissa dip and it was wonderful! I haven’t tried it with a regular yogurt but I’m sure it would be equally delicious.
-Depending on your brand of harissa and your personal spice preferences, you may need to adjust the proportions. I used the brand Cava.
-The optional mayo in the creamy harissa dip gives the dip a bit more body and makes it less yogurt-forward.
Trio of Dips
1. Creamy Harissa
- ¾ cup full fat yogurt
- 1 level tablespoon Cava harissa
- 1 teaspoon mayo (optional)
Combine all ingredients; mix well.
2. Mango-Poblano (Vegan)
- 1 heaping cup finely diced mango (1 very large mango)
- ¼ cup finely diced poblano, deveined and deseeded (about 1 pepper)
- ¼ cup finely diced tomatillo (about 1 small tomatillo)
- 1 tablespoon basil chiffonade (stack and roll fresh basil leaves, then cut across into thin ribbons)
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- pinch of sea salt
Combine the mango, poblano, and tomatillo in a bowl. Add the basil, lime juice, cumin, and salt. Mix well.
3. Savory Avocado (Vegan)
- 1 avocado
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- ½ cup boiling water
Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Blend well, using the tamper, until smooth. Place blender in the fridge for at least 1 hour, until dip is chilled. Blend briefly before serving, if necessary, to freshen color.