Spring has sprung! Er-well, almost sprung here in Connecticut, but with temperatures heading north, I couldn’t resist dusting off the grill and planning some outdoor meals! There’s nothing better to the taste buds then the first bite of a juicy steak or tangy BBQ chicken or marinated and charred vegetables. With our first little one on the way, I’m constantly thinking of ways I can raise a good eater. The odds are good, coming from parents who love to dine and will try just about anything but how can I make my favorite dishes “kid-friendly?” One of my favorite additions to any meal, especially in the summer is a good dipping sauce. A good sauce adds another dimension of flavor, gives a twist on traditional grilled-fare, and makes eating your veggies fun!
Sauces can range from simple to complex but I like to keep ingredients minimal, fresh, and creative. Something I can whip together quickly with whatever’s in the fridge! Like my homemade Tzatziki, a traditional Greek dip that blends perfectly with marinated chicken kebabs or mixed grilled vegetables. Actually, with my great fondness of garlic and recently acquired craving for dill, I could drench just about any of my meals in this savory and tangy sauce! Here’s the tired-all-the-time-mom-to-be’s simple recipe.
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 cup fat free Greek plain yogurt
1 (or 2 if you’re carrying a baby with Italian taste buds like I am!) cloves of minced garlic
1/2 Cucumber, seeded, grated, and drained of excess water
Twice around the bowl with EVOO
1/2 lemon juiced
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup chopped dill
Mix all the ingredients together, adjusting more or less of each to taste, there’s no wrong amount! Chill for about an hour in the fridge. Enjoy on top of your favorite vegetable blend!
Another versatile dip I love to make all summer is Guacamole. Again, ingredients are to taste, whatever your family likes, add it! There’s no wrong way! Just mash a few ripe avocados, stir in one or two chopped tomatoes (I like Roma), some diced red onion, a little garlic, a little cilantro (a little goes a long way with cilantro!), a pinch of salt and I like a pinch of cumin for a hint of smokey flavor. Got some mango in the fridge? Throw it in! Mango’s a fun, sweet twist. Serve with tortilla chips, crudites, on top of burgers, fajitas, and always a nice crisp glass of Pinot Grigio…or club soda for a few more months in my case! (Tip: Got leftovers? Toss in the avocado pits to keep your guac from going brown.)
The last dip I’ll leave you drooling over (I’m assuming here but I’m probably right, yes?) is a cilantro creme that I top one of my favorite Ellie Krieger recipes with. I have been making this healthy twist on steak tacos for years and I love it more and more each and every time I cook it. The steak is rubbed with the perfect blend of spicy and smokey flavors that are enhanced by the fresh cucumber-avocado salsa. They’re like a south of the border vacation right in your back yard and they’re so healthy, you won’t feel bad going back for seconds! Here’s the recipe: Chili-Rubbed Steak Tacos with Avocado Lime Salsa. I bought hanger steaks for my last go around, but only because they have a little more fat, adding to flavor as I’m cooking everything well-done these days! Otherwise, we’re a medium-rare family, don’t forget to let the meat rest so the juices redistribute and you don’t lose all your flavor on the cutting board! I also cut back to one jalapeno, the chili-rub gives enough bite for my buds.
Now for my twist.
1 cup fat free sour cream
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime juiced (you can also add the zest for flavor and color)
A drizzle of EVOO
Mix the ingredients and chill for about an hour. Disfruta!
There are so many wonderful ways to jazz up a meal with dips and a countless number of easy options; hummus from the middle east, bruschetta from Italy, a million different salsas from South America to Spain, ginger-soy sauce from Asia, and all the other dips in between! A great dip makes for a fun addition to any meal or snack, especially as the warmer weather approaches. So go ahead, break out the grill, soak up that sunshine, get creative with whatever’s in the fridge and “dip” in!
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian