THE NIBBLE (TM) - Great Finds for Foodies (tm)
Send An e-Postcard
Enter The Gourmet Giveaway
Print This Page
Bookmark This Page
Contact Us
Sign Up For The Top Pick Of The Week
THE NIBBLE (TM) - Great Finds for Foodies (tm) The Nibble on Twitter The Nibble on The Nibble on share this The Nibble  RSS Feed
THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Spreads/Dips/Salsa

TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce


A three-ingredient peanut sauce. Photo
courtesy Lizzie Mabbot | Lizzy Eats London.


If you’re a fan of peanut sauce for dipping, making sesame noodles or drizzling over steamed vegetables, and diluted with salad oil for a salad dressing.

While the preparation is simple—just combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend—depending on the recipe, you can spend more time or less time measuring ingredients.

We discovered this super easy recipe version on, contributed by blogger Lizzie Mabbot of Lizzy Eats London. She serves it with homemade summer rolls.



  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

    1. COMBINE the ingredients with a whisk. If sauce is too thick, add a little water.




    This recipe, from McCormick, has more layers of flavor and takes a few more minutes to prepare—plus fish sauce and sesame oil, which you may not have on hand. McCormick uses it in their sesame noodles recipe.


  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil


    Seasame noodles with peanut sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth.



    TIP: 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread


    What do you like to do with spinach dip?
    Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.


    Many people enjoy spinach dip; they just don’t enjoy it often enough.

    Recipes vary greatly (here’s a super-rich spinach-mascarpone dip). Zabar’s, the famed food emporium in New York City, is known for its vegan spinach-arugula spread, a garlicky spinach dip variation with peppery arugula punch, made with Tofutti instead of a dairy product. The ingredients are spinach, arugula, Tofutti, pesto, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, salt and pepper.

    Zabar’s chefs recommend it to liven up favorite comfort foods, weeknight dinners and entertaining staples. You can use your favorite spinach dip variation, based on using cream cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt or a combination.

    Then, use it in any of these 13 ways:

    1. Stir spinach dip into macaroni and cheese for extra color and flavor.

    2. Spread it onto split French or Italian bread loaves, cover with minced garlic mixed with a little olive oil and broil, for a twist on garlic bread.

    3. Mix with boiled halved or quartered potatoes and scallions for zesty potato salad.


    4. Use instead of mayo on a BLT or other sandwich.

    5. Use instead of mayo in chicken, egg, tuna, salmon or pasta salad for pumped-up flavor.

    6. Mix into mashed potatoes.


    7. Spread on sliced, toasted bread or crostini and serve as appetizers or with a salad.

    8. Spread on crostini, cover with Gruyère or other melting cheese and broil\; then float the crostini in your favorite soup.

    9. Use instead of cream cheese on a bagel with lox.

    10. Fill an omelet.

    11. Mix with low-fat plain Greek yogurt for a healthy crudité or chip dip.

    12. Mix with ricotta for a lasagna filling.

    13. Add to a baked potato instead of butter or sour cream.
    Would you like to add a tip or two to this list? Let us know.



    Spinach dip spread on crostini. Photo courtesy




    PRODUCT: Shelf Stable Pacific Organic Hummus

    Way back in 2006, we received samples of shelf-stable hummus in jars. From a brother and sister-led company called Salt & Vinegar, we felt the manufacturers had nailed a need in the rapidly growing hummus market: hummus that didn’t require refrigeration.

    The fledgling company didn’t make it; and since then, the hummus category has exploded even more. You can find hummus in dozens of flavors, mixed with other Middle Eastern specialties like babaganoush, tabouleh and yogurt.

    The only thing missing: shelf-stable hummus. Hummus that you can keep in your locker or desk drawer, in your glove compartment, in your gym bag, for a protein-packed, better-for-you snack or light lunch.

    Pacific Foods has risen to meet the need, with three flavorful varieties of shelf stable—Classic, Roasted Garlic and Roasted Red Pepper. They are made from the highest quality organic ingredients, including chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, a touch of garlic and a pinch of sea salt.

    How does shelf stable hummus compare to refrigerated or freshly made hummus?



    Two of the three flavors of shelf-stable hummus (no refrigeration required). Photo courtesy Pacific Foods.



    No refrigerator required. Photo courtesy
    Pacific Foods.


    In our own office test, our favorite refrigerated varieties (including Tribe) won out, but Pacific was deemed more than worthy, with bonus points for convenience.

    And according to the manufacturer, Pacific’s Classic Hummus has “one-third fewer calories and 40% less fat than the refrigerated hummus category leader.”

    Look for them where you’d find the shelf stable salsas, in the chip aisle. They’re rolling out at Whole Foods Markets, and at other stores that carry the Pacific brand of organic products.

    Priced at $3.39 to $4.29 (based on the individual retailer)per 12.75-ounce container, these convenient little boxes are begging to accompany you wherever you go.

    Don’t forget a plastic spoon plus optional chips and veggies.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Caramelized Onion Dip

    We grew up making Lipton’s California Dip: a package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix combined with a pint of sour cream. It was simple and soul-satisfying, a party standard with potato chips and pretzels (and later, crudités, pita chips and other chips).

    The recipe appeared in 1954, two years after the Lipton soup mix hit the market. The recipe “spread through Los Angeles faster than a canyon fire.” (Source: American Century Cook Book, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997,p. 24.)

    Newspapers printed the recipe and onion soup mix sales soared. Beginning in 1958, Lipton printed the recipe on every box of the soup mix.

    As with the creator of German Chocolate Cake, a recipe that spread like wildfire throughout Texas, the identity of the original recipe developer has never been established. So if your grandmother or great-grandmother lived in L.A. in 1954 and claimed to have invented Lipton California Dip, it could be so.

    Over the years, from-scratch onion dip recipes have taken turns with chives, leeks and scallions. Caramelized onions also have their fans.



    Chips and caramelized onion dip. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    In fact, this summer, you can pick up Heluva Good! Limited Edition Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onion Dip. Caramelized onions have more sophisticated flavor than the dried onion chips in the Lipton mix, from the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the roasted garlic layered in.

    Heluva Good is a specialty producer of sour cream and sour cream-based dips. Find out more, and see the other dip flavors, at

    You also can make your own caramelized onion dip. The recipe below takes just 10 minutes, plus chilling time.



    Caramelized onions are delicious with any
    savory foods. Photo courtesy Pompeian | FB.



    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Chips, crudités, pretzels or other dippers


    1. HEAT oil in medium saucepan or frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sage. Cover and cook until onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

    2. WHISK together mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in the cooled caramelized onions, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until flavors blend, about 2 hours.



    We consume them as quickly as we make them!

    Often, we eat them right from the pan or as they’re cooling. But check out these uses for caramelized onions.



    RECIPE: Apricot Cilantro Salsa

    Seasonal apricot salsa brightens grilled
    chicken or fish. Photo courtesy Landana


    Salsa is simply the generic word for “sauce.” Many centuries before tortilla chips were invented, Aztecs and other Mesoamericans ground ingredients into sauces for meat and fish.

    This salsa recipe was developed as a sauce for chicken or fish, as opposed to a dip for tortilla chips. It comes from Landana Cheese, a Dutch producer specializing in Gouda-style cheeses—hence the unusual addition of cheese. You can omit the cheese, and the salsa is just as good.



  • 5.3 ounces (150g) Gouda-style cheese, shaved (Landana used their 1000 Days aged Gouda)
  • 8 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
  • 6 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


    1. CUT the apricots into a small dice. Remove the leaves of cilantro from the stems and mince them. Juice the lime and grate the zest.

    2. COMBINE the apricots, cilantro, lime juice and zest and paprika and allow the flavors to blend for a half hour or longer. Shave flakes from the cheese and divide them over appetizer spoons or appetizer dishes. Then divide the apricot-coriander salsa over the cheese.



    Fresh, ripe, California apricots are have a short peak season, and that season is now.

    Some 95% of the apricots grown in the U.S. come from California. More than 400 growers produce apricots from 21,000 acres of orchards in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, and in the northern part around San Francisco.

    Numerous apricot varieties grow in California, each with special characteristics. The most prevalent varieties are the Blenheims, Castlebrites, Pattersons and Tiltons. Growers continually experiment with new varieties that deliver sweeter, juicier flavor and/or process or ship with more longevity. Fruits are bred to do better in specific soils and microclimates.

    Apricots originated China. Cuttings were brought by caravan across the Persian Empire and planted in the Mediterranean, where they flourished.

    Spanish explorers get credit for introducing the apricot to the New World, and specifically to California, where they were planted in the gardens of Spanish missions. The first major production of apricots was recorded in 1792, in an area south of San Francisco.



    Organic apricots from Northern California’s Frog Hollow Farm.



    If you end up with a wealth of apricots, they can be frozen in sugar syrup, to be defrosted and enjoyed in the cold months when you need a bit of sunshine.

    1. COMBINE 2 cups sugar and 5 cups water. Add 2 ounces ascorbic acid for each 2-1/2 cups syrup.

    2. PLUNGE cleaned whole apricots into boiling water for about thirty seconds. Then peel, pit and halve or slice; place in the sugar syrup and freeze.

    3. DEFROST slowly in the fridge (the best way to retain flavor when defrosting just about anything).



    RECIPE: Pxali, Georgian Spinach Dip With Walnuts

    Americans love creamy spinach dip, sometimes made with added artichoke hearts (here’s a rich and lovely spinach and mascarpone dip recipe).

    But there are other types of spinach dip, some even better for you. Here’s a Georgian-style dip—actually more of a spread, which is chock-full of walnuts for protein and made with no cholesterol or added fat.

    That’s Georgia, the country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, and part of the former Soviet Union.
    This recipe was created by California-based chef Boris Portnoy for the California Walnut Board. Chef Portnoy, of Georgian ancestry, notes that this dish originated in Georgia but has been adopted in other parts of the Caucasus.

    The name for the spread is pxali, a general term denoting a spread or dip that can be made from a variety of vegetables. Spinach is traditional. The dip is green if spinach is used, red if beet leaves are used or white if young cabbage leaves are chosen.

    Whatever the vegetable, the dip/spread is always bound with a rich walnut paste into a thick mass, which can be used as a side dish at dinner or a main dish for lunch served with bread or lavash.
    It is best made a day ahead, so the flavors can develop more fully.



    A different type of spinach dip. Photo courtesy California Walnut Board.



    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 1 pound spinach leaves (bagged and pre-washed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek*
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili flakes or red pepper flakes (the more use, the spicier the dip will be)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish: pomegranate seeds and flat-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish
  • Crisp flatbread or crackers, or a rustic country-style bread, thinly sliced
    *Ground mustard seed can be substituted. Fenugreek is in the spice section. If your supermarket doesn’t carry it, check international markets or buy it online.



    Fenugreek seeds. The spice is also sold
    ground. Photo courtesy Malaysian Kitchen.



    1. CHOP the walnuts finely in a food processor, until they are the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Transfer to a large bowl.

    2. PLACE the spinach in a large pot, cover tightly and cook over moderate heat, stirring once or twice, until the leaves are wilted. (Alternately, microwave the spinach in a covered bowl until wilted.) Rinse the spinach with cold water, which cools it and stops the cooking. Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach, a handful at a time.

    3. CHOP the spinach finely in the food processor as well, and add to the walnuts. Stir in the garlic and water. Add the vinegar, coriander, fenugreek, chili flakes, cilantro and parsley to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Season with salt to taste. If the spread seems too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.

    4. TRANSFER to a serving dish and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Serve with flatbread, crackers or sliced rustic bread. Makes about 3 1/2 cups dip.



    Fenugreek is a plant that was likely first cultivated in the Near East. The oldest samples have been found at an Iraqi archeological site, carbon dated to 4000 B.C.E. Seeds were also found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

    The largest producer today is India, with Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Nepal, Morocco, Pakistan, Spain and Turkey also major producers.

    In India, the seeds are used to make daals, pickles, spice mixes and vegetable dishes. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavor. Fresh fenugreek leaves are used in some Indian curries; sprouted seeds and microgreens are used in salads.

    The sweet-smelling plant produces an herb (dried or fresh leaves), a spice (the seeds, which are used whole or ground), and a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens).

    A member of the Fabaceae family of agricultural and food plants, fenugreek’s relatives include alfalfa, beans, carob, chickpeas, licorice, peas, peanuts and soybean.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Tex-Mex Queso Dip


    A classic queso dip. Photo courtesy Kraft


    Unlike turkey for Thanksgiving or ham and lamb for Easter, there are no “traditional” Cinco de Mayo foods. Anything Mexican or Tex-Mex goes.

    What is a regional holiday in Mexico commemorates the 1862 victory of a small and poorly-equipped Mexican militia led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin over the much larger French army at The Battle Of Puebla. It temporarily stopped the French invasion of the country.

    Cinco de Mayo is actually a bigger event in the U.S., thanks to promotions from Mexican restaurants and Americans’ love of Mexican food.

    If you don’t want to go all-out, you can have salsa, chips and a Margarita or a Mexican beer at home. Or, make a warm, creamy queso dip (queso is the Mexican word for cheese), also known as chile con queso.

    According to Bobby McGee of Jardine’s, our favorite fine salsa producer, queso dip is a Tex-Mex invention of the 20th century. It can take the form of a spread or a warm dip with tortilla chips.

    Cheese has always been a costly ingredient. To stretch the cheese, some clever cook added chopped vegetables.

    In the best recipes, a semisoft cheese is melted into a smooth mixture with, for example, sour cream and/or butter for a smooth texture and cornstarch for body. Chopped vegetables or salsa are added for “stretch” and flavor.

    Shortcut recipes mix a block of Velveeta or American cheese with a can of Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chilies. Instead of processed cheeses like these—or buying supermarket brands made with them—whip up your own, more flavorful, queso dip with asadero, Cheddar or Jack cheese.

    Asadero is a semisoft cheese often used for melting: a smooth, yellow cheese reminiscent of Provolone, with a bit of zest and tang. It’s often sliced or shredded to use for quesadillas or other sandwiches, and it’s a favorite for nachos and queso dips.

    Check out the different types of Mexican cheeses.

    Here’s a recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Michelle of



    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained (about 1 cup)
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Tortilla chips, raw vegetables or hot flour tortillas for dipping


    A delicious, from-scratch queso dip. Photo courtesy


    1. MELT the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, serrano chiles and jalapeño; cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

    2. WHISK the flour into the pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly pour the milk into the pan while whisking, and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes.

    3. REDUCE the heat to low, and add the grated cheeses a ¼ cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is completely melted. Repeat until all of the cheese has been added. Stir in the sour cream until completely combined. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Leftover queso can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and reheated when you’re ready to serve.



    RECIPE: Warm Spinach Mascarpone Dip

    Among our Eatin’ O’ The Green recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, this warm spinach dish is very popular. Who doesn’t love a spinach dip, with its glimmer of healthful green spinach blended into a creamy (and not so healthful) base?

    This recipe, from Vermont Creamery,is made even richer with mascarpone.

    It’s delicious as a kick-back snack with Irish beer; or with wine and savory cocktails like the Martini.



  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dippers: baguette slices, crackers, pita chips, toasts


    Warm and creamy, it’s Popeye’s favorite dip. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.



    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. COOK the onion with olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, until translucent.

    3. ADD frozen spinach and heat until spinach is hot but still green. Add mascarpone, salt, pepper, cayenne, Parmesan cheese and stir. Pour the mixture into a small casserole or baking dish.

    4. BAKE for 30 minutes until bubbling around the edges. Serve warm with pita chips or a sliced baguette. Or add a note of healthfulness with raw veggies (crudités).



    RECIPE: Guacamole Canapés & Mini Iceberg Wedges

    Deconstructed guacamole. Photo courtesy
    Wholly Guacamole.


    First of all: What’s a canapé (can-uh-PAY)?

    It’s a type of hors d’oeuvre: a small, savory bite on a base of bread, toast or pastry. It is a finger food, eaten in one or two bites.

    Canapés are often served at cocktail parties, and in the hands of a caterer or chef they can be beautifully decorated works of edible art. Canapé is the French word for sofa. The idea is that the toppings sit on a “sofa” of bread or pastry.

    These Super Bowl snacks are much more down to earth, as befits the occasion. They’re guacamole canapés, a change of pace from the same old, same old guacamole and chips.

    Since the tomatoes and onions are separate from the mashed avocado, this is effectively “deconstructed guacamole.”

    The recipes below are courtesy Wholly Guacamole.



  • 1 baguette (French bread loaf)
  • Guacamole (use prepared chunky guacamole or make your own)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, sliced into small, thin wedges
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. SLICE baguette into 1/2 inch slices and toast lightly. Spread approximately 2 tablespoon of guacamole on each slice.

    2. TOSS diced tomatoes with onions an cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    3. DISTRIBUTE tomato/onion mix to canapés. Top with lime slices and serve on a platter.



    Most people enjoy a classic wedge salad: iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing. Here, we turn it into finger food.


  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Blue cheese dressing (here’s our recipe)

    1. CUT lettuce into mini wedges, about 3 inches each. The objective is to pick them up by hand.

    2. TOP with bacon and tomato slices.

    3. DRIZZLE with blue cheese dressing and top with optional crumbled blue cheese. Serve on a platter.


    Mini iceberg wedge salad, for when you just want a taste. Photo courtesy Wholly Guacamole.




    FOOD FUN: Crocamole, An Avocado Crocodile

    You looking at me? Photo courtesy Shannon
    Seip | Bean Sprouts Café & Cooking School.


    This fun idea comes from Shannon Payette Seip, author of Bean Appetit: Hip And Healthy Ways To Have Fun With Food. She is co-founder of Bean Sprouts Café and Cooking School in Seattle, where families learn to make dishes that are both great tasting and good for you.

    There’s also a pun: avocado is also known as alligator pear.

    She also shared that Cornell study found kids to be 30% more likely to try a food if it has a cool name. For example, baked squash casserole can be “Squashy Shazam!”

    Kids also like to get creative when it comes to “styling” their food—turning grapes, olives and strips of red pepper into eyes, nose and mouth of their mashed potatoes.


    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 half avocado
  • Baby carrots or carrot sticks
  • 2 cucumber slices
  • 2 black olive slices
  • Crudités for dipping

    1. REMOVE avocado flesh, carefully preserving the shell. Make guacamole.

    2. RETURN guacamole to shell; create crocodile face with carrots (pointy side up), cucumber and olive slices, as shown in photo.

    3. SERVE with extra vegetables for dipping.


    1. MASH avocado. Mix with finely diced onion and chopped tomato to taste.

    2. SEASON with garlic, lime juice, salt and cayenne or chili flakes to taste.



    « Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »

    About Us
    Contact Us
    Privacy Policy
    Media Center
    Manufacturers & Retailers
    Facebook Auto Publish Powered By :