Entertaining Tip: Easy Food Processor Dips

We've been introducing little entertaining tips over the past few weeks in an attempt to make dinner parties, large or small, even more enjoyable and less harrowing. Today, we're highlighting a genre of appetizer — the dip — that can easily rise above its humble ingredients. If you have some canned goods you're weeding out in a pantry clean-up, some leftover cheese or nuts, and a food processor, you can make a tasty dip as quickly as you can run to the store for a last-minute hummus buy. The time and effort involved couldn't be more host-friendly. Our favorite dips include some sort of canned or preserved product — white beans, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes — plus something to add flavor and thickness, like feta or goat cheese, and a bright note from either a fresh herb or some citrus. You pulse all of that in a food processor and then stream in some oil to get the smooth consistency you want.

It takes five minutes! And you can make dips ahead of time, so you aren't still fiddling with the appetizer while trying to get dinner going.

Lately we've been adding nuts instead of (or in addition to) cheese, which give a meatier flavor, but the combinations are endless. The recipes pictured above, both from Bon Appétit, use pantry staples you probably have on hand. On the left is Roasted Red Pepper with Feta (to make this one fit our quick-and-easy bill, use jarred peppers instead of roasting your own). On the right is Balsamic Bean Dip, which uses cannellini beans and balsamic vinegar.

We make a cannellini bean dip with garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and zest, and olive oil, but now we're thinking a splash of balsamic vinegar would be good. You could also substitute walnut oil or sesame oil for olive.

A tip for using leftover dip: Toss it with pasta for an easy weeknight meal.

For those of you wondering about using the Chef'n Manual Food Processor we've been fawning over... Well, we think you'd get a chunkier dip, and we're not sure about the logistics of streaming in olive oil, but dips are forgiving — and they are meant to look rustic.

More recipes we rounded up from the Web:

(Images: left, Pornchai Mittongtare; right, Wyatt Counts. Both for Bon Appétit.)

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