This quick appetizer has become our new weekday staple. Its easy, healthy, and not so filling that it will fill you up before you get your dinner ready. The recipe makes a large batch that can be put into separate smaller ramekins, covered with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator ready to be pulled out at a moments notice all week long.
The original recipe came from Nena Niessen’s “ Cures from the Kitchen” cookbook and calls for fresh cilantro. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a private cooking by Nina not so long ago and it was the cilantro version that she shared with us alongside a plate of thinly sliced jicama root slightly dusted with cayenne. What a great idea that is! Healthy chips and dip! While I am in absolutely no danger of either turning vegetarian or adjusting my eating habits to the healthy extremes Nena suggests, I did walk away with quite few healthy keepers. (I credit her with my new-found devotion to both quinoia and almond milk .)My husband doesn’t really care much for cilantro so the decision to substitute basil came easy. Ina Garten doesn’t favor cilantro either so after years of seeing her sub in basil on television the idea to do so here was by now second nature. Ina never ceases to remind us whenever the herb is mentioned that she doesn’t like it. (Just another of the many fun quirks that I adore.)
Ina even went so far as to have her guest, the former owner of oft-featured gourmet market Loaves and Fishes, rework her famous “award winning” chili recipe to include basil instead of cilantro when she had a “Tex Mex” themed show. As I was watching that show for the first time I just knew there would be fireworks! Not from the various and numerous chilies the recipe called for but rather from the sputtering Texans going crazy on internet message boards at the mere thought of being taught Tex Mex by a New England born caterer and her Hampton’s grocery proprietress friend calling for basil instead of cilantro in a Tex Mex Chili! If your ancestors didn’t die at the Alamo, don’t pretend to know anything about Tex Mex. Heresy!
Thankfully there is no canonical standard for Almond Dip so please use what you want here. The takeaway here wasn’t with the specific herb or flavors which are quite basic. Nena’s demonstration showed that processed soaked/blanched almonds can make a great dairy free medium for dips and spreads. (Nena is a very “dairy = bad” cook!) I will experimenting further in this medium you can be sure of that. For a more pesto flavored dip I have added a small amount of Parmesan cheese and crushed garlic. Need something even creamier? Add a dollop of Greek yogurt. This, of course, negates the dairy free nature of the dip but it makes it quite good!
Almond Basil Dip
Adapted from Nena Niessen’s “ Cures from the Kitchen “
This is what you will need:
- 2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight in water
- 2 bunches basil
- juice from two lemons
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste or 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
This is how you make it:
- Soak almonds overnight completely covered in water.
- When ready to make dip, drain the almonds.
- The skin should peel off easily.
- If not, blanch the almonds for 3-4 minutes in boiling water and drain again.
- Skins should slip right off.
- Remove the skins from all almonds. You can skip this step but the dip will not be as smooth.
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Add water or almond milk until you get the desired consistency.
- Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.