Thursday, March 24, 2011

meatless march madness

I've never been one for football, but I do enjoy watching a great game of basketball.  The NCAA Championship, also known as March Madness, is in full swing and I'm loving it!  The next four days are going to be good - tonight and tomorrow there are some excellent match-ups for the Sweet Sixteen, with the winners going on to join the Elite Eight on Saturday and Sunday.  For the record, as a born and bred Virginia girl, I'm rooting for VCU and Richmond (Dad went there - go Spiders!), but I secretly want my all-time favorite basketball team, Duke, to win it all.  I know people love to hate them, but I don't.  Sorry I'm not sorry.  I don't feel that bad about it because I went to an ACC school, so I always want the conference to perform well. 

Are any of you hosting viewing parties and looking for ideas of what to serve?  Think vegetarian!  The NCAA tournament and vegetarianism don't exactly go hand-in-hand (how many college boys do you know who would choose a veggie tray over wings?), but I've found two meatless crowd-pleasers that are sure to satisfy even the most voracious carnivore - Rockin' Moroccan White Bean Dip and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Rockin' Moroccan White Bean Dip
First up is my Rockin' Moroccan White Bean Dip, which I originally made several weeks ago for a potluck hosted by the lovely ladies of T Street.  I got great reviews on the dip, but I made so much that there were still leftovers.  Whitney and I noshed on it for several days, even after I froze a bit of it.  Since Lent has started, I've defrosted the reserves and stuffed it in pitas with chopped veggies for a quick and nutritious lunch.  It's also great spread on crackers or toast, or, as it was originally intended, as a dip.  The Moroccan seasoning I used comes straight from Kayln's Kitchen, though it's so delicious I wish I could take credit for it myself.  If you follow the link, you'll see that she originally had the spice mix paired with big bad Mr. Butternut, which I think is how I found the recipe in the first place.  Kayln has really great ideas for South Beach-friendly recipes, so if you're interested in that sort of diet, check out her site.  Though I've never been on the South Beach diet, I think that the program's approach is intuitive and sensible, so I've made and enjoyed quite a few of her recipes.

A note on this recipe - I had no clue what I was doing while I was making it, but dips and hummus recipes like this are hard to screw up.  I didn't think it was thick enough with just the white beans, so I added a can of chickpeas in there.  In my humble opinion, there's no need to use salt because Lord knows there's enough in canned beans anyway.

Rockin' Moroccan White Bean Dip
(Spice Mix recipe from Kayln's Kitchen)
Serves an army

3 14.5-oz cans drained white beans (I used canellini), with liquid reserved
1 14.5-oz can drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Moroccan spice mix, to taste

Moroccan spice mix:
4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.  Mix all ingredients together for the Moroccan spice mix in a small bowl.
2.  In a food processor, combine the beans and chickpeas and pulse/puree to desired consistency.*  If necessary, add reserved liquid 1/3 cup at a time to thin the dip.
3.  Once your dip has been processed, add the Moroccan spice mix and stir to combine with a large spoon or spatula.**  
4.  Transfer to bowl and top with more spice mix, for garnish.

*Personally, I like my dips and hummuses half pureed so bites are slightly chunky.  I like to be reminded that I really am eating food, and it's not air!
**I wish I could tell you how much spice I put in the dip, but I honestly don't remember.  I think I put in maybe three tablespoons, but I like it really spicy.  (There's a reason I call it my Rockin' Moroccan White Bean Dip!)  I'd start with one tablespoon at a time and just keep tasting - y'all know that's how I like to cook!

Next up is my "famous" creamy spinach artichoke dip.  I've only been making this dip for a few months, but I've made it three or four times and everyone always asks me what the secret is.  Well, I'm about to let the cat out of the bag.......first, it's not my recipe.  And, while you're already shocked, I need to throw in another detail.  It's a light version.  

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip, photo from Cooking Light

I originally made this dip for the Super Bowl.  I was skeptical of the recipe because it comes from Cooking Light.  Spinach dip is so decadent, so how could it be delicious in a "light" version?   I very rarely use low-fat and fat-free ingredients because I think it's actually healthier and tastier to eat a little bit less of the real thing.  Often, low-fat and fat-free ingredients are loaded with extra junk and sugar.  However, I think one area where it's okay to go for a reduced-fat version is dairy - products like yogurt, cream cheese and sour cream. (But never fat free, except for yogurt and obviously milk.)

My theory with the "healthier" dairy products led me to try this recipe out.  And man, am I glad I did.  I couldn't even tell the difference!  This dip is really, really delicious.  The boys at the Super Bowl party devoured it.  It was gone as quickly as the pepperoni dip!  I made the same dip again for a massive, multi-table bridge tournament a few weeks ago and people were eating it plain out of the dish after the chips were gone.  If you have some left over, it's nice spread for sandwiches, too!

While low-fat ingredients are fine, do not go for fat-free ingredients because it definitely won't taste as good.  Also, I read the reviews first and adapted the recipe accordingly by using a whole package of spinach and cutting out one block of cream cheese.  My version is below.

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 5 1/2 cups

2  cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2  cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4  cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1  14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1  8-oz block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.
2.  Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and next five ingredients in a large bowl, and stir until well-blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
3.  Let cool for a few minutes and serve with tortilla chips - seriously, let it cool, or you'll burn your tongue off!

What are your favorite game day treats?

1 comment:

  1. Rockin Morrocan looks good! I somehow missed that at the potluck. Will definitely give this one a try.