4 homemade dips to add to your next grazing platter

Food writer Kristina Jensen shares her favourite summer dips.

Words: Kristina Jensen

Some people talk about this being the Digital Age or the New Media Age. If you’re a parent trying to navigate through iPads, smartphones, gaming teenagers and Facebook-obsessed tweens, it’s more like the Dark Age of Technology.

I call it the Age of Dips. Every time I go into a supermarket, which is not very often as we live nearly three hours from the closest one, it seems that the range has expanded yet again.

What is it about dips that has us hooked? Is it that no-one will look at you disparagingly when you’re eating dip? Many of the dips now on the market contain vegetables and/or legumes and that’s got to be good, right? Do you love dips as a great in-between-meals snack? Maybe it’s the joy of eating with your fingers? Whatever the reason, we are now a nation of dippers.

I used to do my research for writing in the library. Now I do it online and every time I learn SO much. For example, I discovered that if someone tells you to ‘buy the dips’, they are not asking you to stock up on hummus and babaganoush. Instead, you should focus on purchasing stocks following a decline in prices. If you’re into developing your triceps, a few dips on the bars won’t go amiss.

‘Dipping’ is a term for chewing tobacco. One reviewer of that kind of ‘dip’ said it was like a rodent had exploded in his mouth. I’ll stick with cucumber and mint tzatziki. The dips I have included here are stalwart family favourites, all gluten and dairy-free, and even vegan.

Along with the rise in dip flavours, textures and innovative layering, there are more dairy and gluten-free people about the days. While these two observations may not necessarily be linked, having dairy-free and gluten-free options up your sleeve is a winner when it comes to pot luck dinners and community events.

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When I was a kid – I’ve just turned 50 so for me it’s the 1960s – dips were always accompanied by carrot, celery and cucumber sticks. I can’t recall the first time I ate potato chips, but lo and behold, one finds an increase in the variety of chips running parallel to the exponential growth of dips. Where there are dips, there are chips.

I’ve also been witness to the birth of a dip and possibly a dip manufacturing empire when my husband and I lived in Auckland, back in the early 1990s. Our flatmate Duncan worked at the Ceres Organics store and one day a woman called Lisa came in with a tomato-based dip that she thought the store might like to stock.

Living with Duncan was quite advantageous because he got to bring home perishable items, and we were treated to quite a bit of Lisa’s dip. I’m not sure if this Lisa is the same one whose name is now on hummus and dip containers in every New Zealand supermarket, but I like to think it was and that I was perhaps party to a whole new dip business without knowing it.

Thanks to whichever Lisa it was for inspiring the mediterranean magic dip recipe (see below) all those years ago. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty close.

Dips are the perfect condiments to experiment with over summer, especially a picnic or a finger food-only affair. Dips are surprisingly filling and nutritious when made with wholesome natural ingredients, and they can transform any vegetable stick, plain cracker or chip into a deliciously satisfying culinary treat, no cutlery required.

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It might seem easier to simply go and buy them at the supermarket. But for me – not withstanding the huge distance I’d have to travel to procure store-bought dips – it’s much more fun to create my own dips at home with what I have at hand, to get something truly delicious.

Roasted Parsnip & Carrot Dip

This recipe makes 350-400g of dip, vegan, dairy and gluten-free.


1 medium-sized parsnip
2 large carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
Handful of coriander or rocket
3 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
Chilli powder, optional
Extra olive oil


Chop the parsnip and carrots into small chunks and place in an oven-proof dish.

Pour over the olive oil, add the garlic and cumin seeds, toss together to coat in oil and roast for 20-30 minutes at 180°C until tender.

Place into a small food processor (or use a stick mixer) and add a small handful of fresh coriander and/or rocket, freshly squeezed lemon juice, black pepper and salt, and you can add a pinch of chilli powder if you like a bit of spice, then blitz.

Drizzle in a bit more olive oil while processing until you have the consistency you want.

Kale & Cashew Bean Dip

Makes, 350-400g, vegan, and dairy and gluten-free.


½ cup roasted cashew pieces
1 can white beans
4 leaves fresh kale, stripped off the stalks
1 small handful of basil, mint or coriander
2 garlic cloves
100ml extra virgin, cold-pressed olive or grapeseed oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

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Mix all ingredients together in a food processor (or use a stick mixer) and blitz until smooth.

Mediterranean Magic Dip

This takes a bit of work but is totally worth it, and you get 350-400g of dip.


1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
100g sliced mushrooms
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 char-grilled red or yellow capsicum
1 tsp minced garlic
6 fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp fresh oregano
¼ cup roasted cashew pieces
¼ cup of oil from tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Drain off the oil from your sun-dried tomatoes and put it aside to use later. Fry up the mushrooms with the chopped garlic in oil until soft. Roast the cashew pieces.

To char-grill a capsicum, cut it into quarters and remove the seeds and membranes. Place on an oven tray, skin side up. Roast in a preheated oven until the skin blisters and turns black.

Remove from the oven and place in a plastic container to sweat. When cool, peel away the skin. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz or mix using a stick mixer until you have the desired consistency.

Green Party Dip

Makes 350-400g


4 large gherkins
1 cup packed mint, parsley and dill
3 hard-boiled eggs
2 garlic cloves
1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar
75ml extra virgin cold pressed olive
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Put all the ingredients into a small food processor (or use a stick mixer) and blitz until smooth.


Recipe: Moroccan Broad Bean Dip

Recipe: Ruth Pretty’s Beetroot Cashew Dip and Seed Crackers

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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