Monday, January 4, 2010

Social Lubricants

Appetizers are great social lubricants. Nothing works better to get people talking than a glass of something wet and some good eats. Every gathering I host always has appetizers, ones that are quick, simple and can be made ahead. Generally there are two different kinds of appetizers—sometimes more depending on the size of the crowd--with complimentary flavors and textures for balance.
Dips with veggies are a particular favorite as they are best when made in advance and the veggies can be prepped ahead, too. The vegetables are so colorful and look fantastic no matter how they are arranged! One of the best things about dips and veggies is that they are very munchable without being overly filling.
Fresh mayonnaise is always recommended. See my earlier post “Hold the Mayo" for the recipe.

Pesto Dip
1/2 c. fresh basil coarsely chopped
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. walnuts, toasted*
1/4 c. olive oil
1 clove garlic peeled and coarsely chopped
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
Fresh vegetables to serve

Place first 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Can be made two days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving as needed. Serve with fresh vegetables. Makes about 3 cups
*To toast walnuts: Preheat oven to 350. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet with sides and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until the walnuts are lightly browned.

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