You can assemble your dips or spreads ahead of time for no-fuss, easy to assemble hors d’oeuvres. In fact, the flavor often improves with time spent in the refrigerator. When it comes time to serve, just scoop the dip or spread into a serving bowl. Or get creative and serve it in a bread bowl, baked tortilla shell or hollowed-out bell pepper, zucchini, melon or pineapple for an easy and edible container. Just be sure to have plenty on hand because these dips and spreads go quickly!
Chicken & Spinach Spread
This appetizing spread goes great with vegetables as well as flat bread, pita bread, crackers or homemade biscuits.
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese or white cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté chicken for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove and set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl or using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sour cream. Add the Swiss cheese (or white cheddar cheese), garlic powder and drained spinach; mix for 1 to 2 minutes until well blended. Stir in the chicken.
Spoon the chicken-spinach spread into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
1 teaspoon avocado oil or coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet orange bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 large ripe mangos, peeled*
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel (optional)
1/3 cup chopped cashews (unsalted or low salt)
* Mangos vary in size and variety. As such, you’ll need about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped mango to make the puree, and 1 1/2 to 2 cups diced mango for the dip.
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté peppers for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the green onions and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes more or until peppers and onions are soft. Remove from heat.
Coarsely chop one of the mangos. In the bowl of a food processor or using a hand blender, combine the coarsely chopped mango, ricotta cheese, lemon peel, and sautéed vegetables. Process until the mango is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Transfer mango puree to a serving dish. Dice the remaining mango. Add the diced mango and cashews to the mango puree and combine until blended. Serve with tortilla chips or dippers of choice.
Artichoke & White Bean Dip
3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon reserved artichoke marinade
1 (15-ounce) can small white beans, drained and rinsed
3 to 4 teaspoons capers, depending on taste
5 large fresh basil leaves, torn
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1/2 teaspoon (generous) minced fresh rosemary
1 to 2 tablespoons milk, evaporated milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese
Drain the artichoke hearts and reserve the marinade. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the artichoke hearts and reserved marinade along with the beans, capers, basil and garlic. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the fresh rosemary and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, depending on desired consistency, and process.
Scoop into serving dish, sprinkle cheese on top, and and serve with dippers of choice.
Smoked Salmon & Clam Spread
Smokey, rich and oh so good, this spread makes quite a statement as an appetizer served on a bagel, biscuit, warm whole-grain roll or other type bread.
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
1/2 cup smoked clams
In a small skillet or pan, heat butter and sauté shallots for 2 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove shallots and set aside. Add pecans and sugar to the same skillet and dry toast over medium-low heat for 2 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from stove and set aside.
In a mixing bowl or using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and paprika until smooth. Mix in salmon, clams and sautéed shallots. Spoon salmon mixture into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Sprinkle chilled spread with toasted pecans and serve with crackers, Melba toast, bagel or other dipper of choice.
Oregon-based Kris Wetherbee is an internationally published author, food writer and recipe developer. (kriswetherbee.com)
Chips may have been the standard dipper in the past, but why stop there? Expand your options with these additional dippers:
Bread sticks, fresh pretzel rods, pita bread, toasted baguette, garlic bread, crackers, biscotti, mini scones or spear-shaped pancakes with cooked crispy bacon inside.
Grilled or fresh asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, daikon, sweet pepper, carrots, or jicama cut into spears; fresh sugar snap peas, baby carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower florets.
Fresh fruit, including slices or spears of banana, pear, apple, strawberry, melon, pineapple or nectarines.