Condiment/Spread

A Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip That Was There For Me When I Needed It Most

Pairs with: everything.

January 14, 2019
Photo by Mark Weinberg

Here's the thing about the bounds of my love for dips and spreads: there are none. I've yet to meet one I didn't love.

There's hummus. Baba ganoush. Potlagel. Aioli of all shapes and sizes. Guacamole. Salsa verde, salsa roja, and every salsa in between. Bagna cauda. Pesto (maybe more of a sauce, technically, but tell that to the inside of my sandwich). Labneh bi toum. Tapenade. Sour cream (hi, Ruffles, hello!), French onion, and spinach-artichoke.

Dips and spreads make my world go 'round, because they're often so much better—so much more assertively flavorful, so much more delicately textured—than they need to be. It's the classic supporting actor conceit, because they're a culinary class designed solely to exist as an accent, as a foil for the plate's star, they often end up outshining the main by firing really, really hard on every single cylinder.

Give me a crunchy accoutrement (cracker or crusty bread, preferably, but a carrot'll do in a pinch) and I could pretty much live off of them. Once, my boyfriend walked in on me eating hummus straight from the container for dinner, and when I spat out perfidiously, "It's not what you think! I ran out of pita chips one bite ago!" he just shook his head and left the room.

So, I have some pretty strong feelings for these amorphous blobs of caloric energy. Which made my attempt a few weeks back at Whole30—a month-long eating program designed to reset one's system through elimination of, well, a lot of stuff—pretty darn difficult.

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Top Comment:
“Thanks for sharing your Dip recipe. I'm truly excited by this. My wife and I both really like roasting vegetables and this gives us another way to enjoy them and something to do with the leftovers. It also is a way to innovate to make all kinds of dips with different vegetables and seasonings. I've also done roasted vegetables in/on my BBQ. with a grill basket. And for those of you that might own a "Big Green Egg," or Kamado, which may not be quite as healthy as using the oven, but will give you a different flavor profile which is quite tasty, I might add. You should try BBQ'd roasted veggies. (one big added advantage to using a barbecue to do the veggies is that it is an outdoor process that does not heat the house when the weather is really hot!) :-) ”
— Chris G.
Comment

When undertaking Whole30, you're supposed to avoid added sugar of any kind, most processed foods (e.g., those that contain banned stabilizing agents, like carrageenan), grains, dairy, and alcohol. Oh, and one more big one: legumes.

It was all well and good for about 42 hours. Until I came across a tub of cheesy, herby, creamy dip in the depths of my fridge that I thought I'd polished off a week ago. We locked eyes. She winked at me. I winked back. But just as I slid my thumb along the bottom lip of the lid to expose her beautiful, delicious, perfect contents, I heard a voice in my head:

"Toughen up. Learn to say no..." Huh? Oh, right—the text of the Whole30 website's landing page I'd printed out and read so diligently days before. "Just because it’s your sister’s birthday, or your best friend’s wedding, or your company picnic does not mean you have to eat anything," it says. "It’s always a choice, and we would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade."

I didn't—I distinctly remember quite a few questionable decisions I made in grades eight and nine—but maybe this was my chance to right those wrongs. Maybe this face-off with unsanctioned dip could be my fresh start.

I would have to go back to the drawing board, and come up with an extra-creamy (but creamless!) dip to satisfy my needs without violating any of the Whole30 rules. The program strongly discourages finding workarounds to its guidelines (like, they frown upon making sugar-free brownies with only oat flour, mashed bananas, and cacao chips), because they think that type of culinary behavior reinforces many of the habits that Whole30 aims to reset. Instead, I'd have to turn to whole food ingredients only, not to make a faux-cheese or something like that, but to create something new.

So I got a-chopping. And roasting. And blending. And tasting, tinkering, blending again. (With some re-tasting for good measure).

It had to be irresistible. Thick and creamy, without dairy (hi cauliflower, thanks for stopping by). Lightly sweet, tangy, and very savory all at once (deeply roasted red bell pepper, you got this!). Intensely flavored, with all sorts of nuance (shout-out to lemon, white pepper, tahini, and near-caramelized garlic). Part dip, and part spread, I wanted to be able to put it on everything, both during my Whole30 (crudités, roasted broccoli, salads, slaws, grilled salmon, a very large spoon) and way after (sandwiches, quesadillas, sourdough toast, chips, grain bowls, fried chicken).

And before I knew it, I had a new favorite condiment. He winked at me. I winked back. We've been inseparable ever since. Because Whole30s come and go—but a seriously creamy, delicious snack is for life.

What's your all-time favorite dip or spread? Let me know in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chris Glenn
    Chris Glenn
  • Bella95
    Bella95
  • Ella Quittner
    Ella Quittner
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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is Writer at Food52.

5 Comments

Chris G. January 18, 2019
Woops, I wanted to share one of my google searches:

How To Roast Any Vegetable
https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-roast-any-vegetable-101221
COOKING LESSONS FROM THE KITCHN
by EMMA CHRISTENSEN

The above is a really good primer on how to roast veggies
&
if you do have any interest in roasted veggies on the BBQ,
this google search offers a wealthy of articles on the pro's and con's

Roasted vegetable on the BBQ
https://www.google.com/search?q=Roasted+vegetable+on+the+BBQ&rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS751US751&oq=Roasted+vegetable+on+the+BBQ&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.12623j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Chris
 
Chris G. January 18, 2019
Thanks for sharing your Dip recipe. I'm truly excited by this. My wife and I both really like
roasting vegetables and this gives us another way to enjoy them and something to do with the leftovers. It also is a way to innovate to make all kinds of dips with different vegetables and seasonings. I've also done roasted vegetables in/on my BBQ. with a grill basket. And for those of you that might own a "Big Green Egg," or Kamado, which may not be quite as healthy as using the oven, but will give you a different flavor profile which is quite tasty, I might add. You should try BBQ'd roasted veggies. (one big added advantage to using a barbecue to do the veggies is that it is an outdoor process that does not heat the house when the weather is really hot!) :-)
 
Author Comment
Ella Q. January 18, 2019
Thanks for the note Chris! Hope you and your wife enjoy the recipe.
 
Bella95 January 17, 2019
Ooh. Thank you so much for this. Love your witty comments too. I've been considering an anti-inflammatory diet. I suffer from chronic pain and my liver gets a bashing from all the meds l take. Only thing stopping me is the huge number of my favourite foods that are actually carbs. Not only does this sound great and would fit the criteria AND l've learned about potlagel! Never heard of it but knew immediately that we would be friends - both for my love of eggplants and my bad habit of buying them then deciding the weather's too hot to eat them.
 
Author Comment
Ella Q. January 18, 2019
So glad this could be helpful for you! I hope you enjoy it :)