Breaking Tradition

Zesty Dips for the Holidays

Conner Newbold Nov 1, 2017

Grandma makes the seven-layer dip. Great-aunt Matilda always brings ranch and veggies. And that one brother-in-law concocts a mean guacamole.

Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” holiday food tends to repeat itself — and that’s fine. For the most part. Often, it wouldn’t feel as festive without Aunt Cynthia’s sweet potato casserole doused in butter and brown sugar and sprinkled with pecans. But sometimes these occasions beg for a little culture, a little spunk, a few exotic new flavors to liven up the traditional spread.

We’ve selected a few recipes to get you started, ranked in order from “Now, tell me what this is called again?” to “How did you find time to study at Le Cordon Bleu?”

Baked Artichoke Dip

Yields about 2 ½ cups

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup finely chopped onions
1 13 ¾-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice or dry white wine
¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese and onions in a medium bowl. Add the artichoke hearts, lemon juice and black pepper. Scrape into a small baking dish or ovenproof crock. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and olive oil over the dip. Bake until browned, about 20 minutes. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

Marinated Goat Cheese

Marinated Goat Cheese

8 to 10 servings

¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 7-ounce log goat cheese

Place the olive oil and thyme in a shallow bowl. Add the goat cheese, turning to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator, turning once or twice, for at least one hour or up to five days. Bring to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before serving with pita bread or crackers.


Yields about 2 ¾ cups

3 tablespoons drained capers
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or brandy
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups black olives, pitted*

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Salt and pepper to taste. Pulse mixture to a coarse puree. Serve with cut vegetables or crusty bread.

*For better results, use olives that aren’t from a can, usually located in the antipasti bar at the grocery store. If you want to be really authentic, include 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry.

Pesto Cheesecake

Pesto Cheesecake

About 20 servings

1 cup prepared pesto sauce
1 pound ricotta cheese
½ cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch springform pan, then dust the bottom and sides with seasoned dry bread crumbs. In a large bowl, mix ½ cup of the pesto with the rest of the ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a water bath (don’t forget to wrap the springform pan in foil so the contents don’t get soaked) until set, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the water bath and transfer the pan to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until cold, 6 to 12 hours. Slide a thin-bladed knife around the outside of the cake and remove the outer ring. Spread the remaining pesto around the sides of the cheesecake. Spread the top evenly with ½ cup sour cream; then, if desired, arrange sun-dried tomato halves on top. Serve cold or at room temperature with crackers or crusty bread.

Recipes were curated from the 75th anniversary edition of the famed “Joy of Cooking,” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker — a tome the author would recommend to anyone with a kitchen.

Photos by Mary Harper

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