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How to Up Your Party Platter Game This Holiday

Unexpected guests? Think fast: Guilt-free recipes for two indulgent dips and homemade crackers from the chef behind A Zest for Life

Use your high-speed blender for more than your morning smoothie and create a few crowd-pleasing dips when friends and family come knocking this holiday. Serve guests crackers you made from scratch along with assorted crudités such as trevesi endive, jicama and baby colorful peppers. These recipes are healthier alternatives to the party platter staples, but hold the hummus (I’m not loving the preservatives and uninspired flavors by most brands)—here, I’ve created two bean dips. azestforlife.com

 

Black Bean Hummus Dip

This dip makes the most of its ingredients and flaunts an elegant light black color with help from ground black sesame seeds. Shallots, garlic, cumin and sumac add to its zesty flavor.

Serving Size: 12

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups cooked black beans, organic, drained
1 tablespoon vegetable oil*
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled, chopped
4 small fresh garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon extra  virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sumac
1/4  teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, cleaned and dried

Cook the shallots and garlic in vegetable oil over medium-low heat in a small skillet until softened but not colored, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In the carafe of a Vitamix (or high speed blender) add the black beans, cooked shallots and garlic and oil, black sesame seeds, extra virgin olive oil, sumac, cumin, sea salt and parsley. On “variable” (low) setting, blend ingredients until smooth. Start at 1 (speed), proceed to 4. Turn off, use tamper or a spatula to scrape the sides down. Continue blending for one minute. Hint: Do not blend on too high a speed, the mixture is too thick and will not blend smoothly.

Refrigerate until needed in a clean glass container. Will stay fresh up to 5 days.

 

White Bean, Parmesan and Truffle Dip

This dip has all the explosive umami flavors. The aged cheese creates the creamiest texture when blended. Beans are high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol free—they are the most complete and nutritious foods.

Serving Size: 12

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups cooked cannellini beans, organic, drained (put a few aside for garnish)
1 ” cube parmesan reggiano cheese, rind removed, room temperature
4 small fresh garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
3 tablespoons filtered water
1 tablespoon truffle oil**
few shavings fresh truffles , optional, or Italian jarred, chopped to taste

Cook garlic in vegetable and olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat until softened, but not colored, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

To the carafe of a Vitamix (or other high speed blender), add the white beans, parmesan cube, cooked garlic in oil, hot pepper flakes, thyme, and filtered water. On “variable” (low) setting, blend ingredients until smooth. Start at 1 (speed), proceed to 4. Turn off, use tamper or a spatula to scrape the sides down. Continue blending one minute. Hint: Do not blend on too high a speed, the mixture is too thick and will not blend smoothly. Add the truffle oil, blend to combine.

Refrigerate until needed in a clean glass container. Will stay fresh up to 5 days.  Serve with a thin coating of extra truffle oil and shaved, or chopped truffles if desired.

* With concerns about GMOs and processing of oils, use a vegetable oil which has not been chemically treated, called “expeller pressed.”

** Recommended White Truffle Oils:
La Tourangelle (Organic Sunflower Oil with Truffle Aroma, $16)
D’Artagnan (Olive Oil with White Truffle Essence, $23)

 

NEXT: Karen’s Homemade Spelt and Sesame Crackers

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