Easy Vegan Dips ~ Shallot & Banana Pepper Relish

Hummus.

Salsa.

Pesto.

Spinach & artichoke.

Romesco.

Tapenade.

Vegan queso.

What do these yummy dishes all have in common? They are delicious vegan dips!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am always looking for different things to dip-ify. My favorite is salsa, followed up with hummus but I can totally get down with a nice tapenade if the olive selection is appealing enough. But any one of these vegan dips can get boring after a while and I find it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, so when my father-in-law brought A LOT of white plums back from a trip to the Romanian countryside, it was the perfect time to improvise.

White plums are not just for sweet vegan dishes

To be fair, white plums are not all that delicious on their own. The texture is very similar to the plums you can find in most supermarkets around the world, but the taste is so mild that it’s almost nonexistent. If you give them a day or two after they’re perfectly ripe, they are much sweeter and perfect for this vegan relish I created. Well…maybe someone else created and I just made it up in my head. Either way, this one is mine and I’m claiming it.

Quick & easy vegan dips don’t have to be complicated. Just add chips!

The ingredient list on this vegan dip is super simple. All you need is: banana pepper, shallot, white plums, fresh lemon juice and rice vinegar. The only seasoning I added was salt, black pepper & garlic granules.

Nothing else.

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Start with the shallots, because you want to give him a little bit of pickling so they don’t overpower the other ingredients. Dice the shallots and add them straight to a bowl, along with salt, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Give it a little stir and let it sit while you chop the banana peppers and plums.

I used jarred banana peppers because that’s what I had on hand, and truthfully I don’t think I’ve seen any fresh banana peppers since moving to Romania. Add the banana peppers to the bowl and give a good stir before moving on to the plums.

For the white plums, you can peel the skin off but I kept them on because, you know, fiber. Give them an even dice and add to the bowl. Give everything a quick stir and refrigerate. I let them sit in the fridge for a few days so the flavors could get together and have a little party, but you can dig right in if you want.

And now you have another easy vegan dip added to your repertoire.

And what’s even better? It is SUPER calorie/figure friendly!

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I know what you’re thinking. What the hell do I do with this weird vegan relish?

I’m glad you asked.

Shallot, banana pepper & white plum relish with tortilla chips

You can use this dip in a number of ways

*Mix it with your favorite brand of vegan tuna and make a sandwich

*Grab tortilla chips and nosh away

*Pita chips or pita bread, naan, rustic bread etc…

*Add a few tablespoons to your favorite vegan yogurt or sour cream and make a creamy dip

*Add it on top of your favorite vegan hot dog or sausage, Chicago style

If you’re feeling really hungry, grab a spoon and let go, but I recommend a healthy dose of carbs to go with it.

Fast & Easy Roasted Veggie & Tofu Dip

One of the first things I had to learn to do when I began my health and weight loss journey was to find healthier ways to enjoy a snack here and here. We’re humans, at least that’s what I keep telling my husband I am, and snacking is sometimes inevitable. But instead of using a heap of coconut oil to make too much popcorn on a daily basis, or my absolute favorite, salt & vinegar chips…or anything that you should be having in moderation, I decided you can’t go wrong with dips.

My favorite vegan dip is hummus but some day really soon I’m going to share my newest obsession, falafel dip so you can see just how yummy it is. But today we’re not talking beans, we are talking vegetables.

My original plan had been to make spinach artichoke dip because the Hubs had been asking for it for a while so I bought frozen spinach, got some red peppers to roast up and prepared all of my ingredients…only to realize the jar of artichoke hearts had gone bad.

Take two.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that spinach is not my most favorite vegetable of all time. It’s not even my favorite of the dark leafy green family. At best I would say that I tolerate spinach because of it’s many health benefits, so the idea of a mostly spinach dip was…no bueno. So I had to improvise with sauteed onions, bell pepper, garlic and scallions. There may even be a carrot in there, I’m not sure at this point.

With my veggies sauteed and cool I added the thawed spinach and set aside.

It was time to assemble.

For the main part of this vegan vegetable dip, you’ll need tofu in brine. Because it is easily available here, I go for Inedit brand but feel free to use what you prefer or what’s available in your area. Cut up the brick of tofu and pop it into a food processor with roasted garlic and scallions. Run until you get the dip texture you’re looking for and then fold it in to the sauteed veggies.

A few of the spices I added include: smoky paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, curry, ground fennel and chili powder plus a pinch (or two) of nutritional yeast flakes for that cheesy umami flavor.

Next comes the vegan cheese! Sprinkle as little or as much as you need for your dip, just make sure you measure it out first.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C/400°F for 25 to 45 minutes, until it is crisp and bubbly on the edges and slightly brown on top.

As you can see I added some extra smoky paprika to the top because I just can’t get enough of the stuff!

Because of the current state of the world, I didn’t want to run around to a bunch of grocery stories in search of pita breads so I improvised with flour tortilla shells. Next time, I plan to go for corn tortilla chips in lieu of pita. What’s your favorite dip vessel?

Of course we had to pair it with an icy cocktail.

I made a white wine sangria with mint, lemon and lime. It was…okay. I’m not a fan of white wine but it was a nice lesson learned…and my mother-in-law loved the cocktail. And she ‘really liked’ the dip.

It’s a start, right? What other dips would you like to see?

 

Much Ado About Salsa

I know what you’re thinking, salsa is already vegan so why do we need a whole post about it. Right?

Wrong.

Salsa is vegan but it is so much more than that. It is the perfect snack for people in search of low calorie alternatives to chips, chocolate and other junk food. It’s a great source of beta carotene thanks to the tomatoes, and it’s a great way to impress the hordes who prefer the jarred crap, er salsa.

This won’t be a long post because there isn’t that much to be said about salsa, so let’s jump right into it.

A good salsa recipe starts with the right ingredients.

For this salsa I went mostly basic but once you have a base salsa, you can change things up and see how different ingredients change the flavor. Here is a base list of ingredients:

Tomatoes
Limes
Onion
Parsley
Oregano
Chili peppers
Garlic
Cumin
Hot sauce (couple drops)

I used lemons this time around mostly because the limes were too hard and needed a few more days to ripen but typically lime is the way to go in my opinion. You’ll also notice a distinct lack of cilantro and that’s because I’m one of those people who can’t abide it. I won’t try it anymore and I don’t add it to my salsa so…that. But parsley is a great substitute if you’re part of the population who simply can’t do cilantro. I prefer jalapenos because I think they provide great flavor with just enough heat that I won’t burn off my husband’s mouth but sometimes I go a little crazy and use habaneros or Thai chili peppers. For the onions, try red or white or yellow, or even scallions.

Sometimes, like Cinco de Mayo or Wednesday, I’ll add a half shot of tequila mixed with the lime juice for a grown up salsa that is super delicious.

You can choose to hand chop your ingredients for a more rustic style salsa but I just don’t have the time or patience so I refer to my handy food processor/chopper. But there is a method to my madness. I prefer to pulse the tomatoes until they are manageable and then add the rest of the remaining ingredients.

So…how is this vegan?

Simple, it just is. But there are some people out there who add things like grated cheese to flavor it or other ingredients that might have animal products in it that you don’t know about such as some jarred lime juice brands.

 You should be able to taste all the ingredients in every bite.

 

A few more tips:

*Check your tortilla chips to ensure they are vegan and suitable for your particular diet.

*Make your own tortilla chips in the oven with whole wheat tortilla shells or get really fancy and make’em from scratch

*Don’t be afraid to experiment with other, similar ingredients.