Dips are a favorite and somewhat addicting party appetizer, so much so in fact that people often find themselves spending more time with these snacks than they do socializing with friends. Unfortunately, these harmless starters often tend to be so heavy that you don't feel like mingling or eating much else after a few bites. But cookbook author Diane Morgan has found a solution so that people can eat their dips and still feel great.
In her book, Skinny Dips, she’s managed to preserve taste while cutting down on calories and fat to come up with unique and delicious recipes. We asked her a few questions to give home dip-makers some advice and quick tips for maximizing on flavor while cutting back on fat.
In some of your recipes, you use reduced-fat products, how does this affect the consistency and overall taste of the dip, and how do you make up for it?
Because I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician who has pre-conceived notions about what healthy should be, I’m coming at it from the chef side, so the bottom line for me is that they all have to taste really good and that you don’t miss the fat. That was my goal. Even though I’m using low-fat ingredients, I’m not using non-fat or fake cheese. I refuse to do that. So you find that balance for how much you use, and what other ingredients will make up for that lack of full fat.
For each dip that you make, you have to ask yourself, are you spicing it, or using free ingredients like fresh herbs, garlic, or onions that give power and punch to a dip without adding fat?
What are some other flavorful ingredients you can add to a dip?
Vegetables are great because they are natural. When you use something like tomatoes, eggplant or cauliflower, you get so many flavors from the ingredients themselves and then if you spice them appropriately, you get a ton of flavor. Using fresh fava beans, edamame and other beans are great to really flavor up a dip. You can also add flavor with lemon juice, fresh herbs, spices and chiles — if that’s the direction that you have in mind.
What are some healthy and creative dippers that you suggest instead of chips?
You’ve got all these crudités that are obvious choices even though we don’t think about it. One thing I did, and it was serendipity because it had never occurred to me before was to bake wonton wrappers. So I cut them on the diagonal making triangles, and dusted them with a little sesame oil and baked them. These taste really great and were a lot of fun.
Do some dippers go better with thicker dips versus thinner dips?
If you have a pretty sturdy dip, you need a thick chip so that it won’t break. So for salsas since you need something to a hold a lot of the dip, try baked tortilla chips, or slices of jicama. And depending on the dip, you can do a crostini. You can also do vegetable chips like a taro or baked potato chip, or others that are not high in fat. It’s just about pairing them.
What are some dip tips for people who don’t have a food processor?
Well, it some cases it honestly gets a little tricky, because it’s pretty hard to blend. There are tons of dips that you don’t need a processor for, but the minute you get into pureeing a bean dip, I don’t really have a lot of good options. It’s kind of what you need. But actually in some cases you can get away with a mini-chop, the smaller one, and most of the dips in the book would fit into that. Those aren’t anywhere near as expensive.
For the three recipes that we are featuring, can you suggest other ways to use these instead of just as dips?
For the green goddess, you can certainly use it as a salad dressing. I know the old style with the wedge of iceberg lettuce is kind of retro, so it could be fun on that or on romaine leaves. Spin that with a little bit of olive oil for a dressing.
For the tomatillo guacamole, this would be great with skewers of grilled chicken or pork.
And for the queso, I know this sounds weird, but you could have it at breakfast with a couple of eggs over easy.