Dip with Mary's Crackers!

Dip with Mary's Crackers!

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Dips. They work well with crackers and veggies, and come in handy as a pre-dinner appetizer, a contribution to a pot luck, or for a wine and movie night - not to be confused with "Netflix and Chill". I can remember when the most common "dip" was the combination of sour cream and a packet of dry onion soup mix. Many people have now embraced hummus, guacamole, baba ghanoush, to name a few. Since this (2016) is the "International Year of the Pulse", the timing is right to share this bean dip which I have made countless times. 

When it comes to recipes, I am not accomplished at working from scratch. I can confidently tweak recipes, but don't (yet) invent them. I try here always to identify the recipe source. I got this from a nutritionist, and as I began to poke around on the internet for her recipe, I discovered it was not actually "hers". This brings to mind a blog post I once did on "Whose recipe is it anyway?", where I found a source that suggests that "3 MAJOR changes to the recipe can make it your own… but that you should still credit where credit is due if your inspiration came from a specific recipe". The recipe from the nutritionist did not make major changes and did not credit an inspiration - and yet, in fairness, it is noteworthy that this recipe appears on the internet quite often with no source cited. I stumbled upon what does seem to be the source - a Weight Watcher's Cookbook. 

In 1994, the recipe was featured in the Toledo Blade newspaper with these remarks. "A few years ago the host who served beans at a cocktail party would have been criticized. Now they are fashionable and on the good nutrition list because they are low in fat and high in protein. The Weight Watchers Cookbook includes a highly seasoned Moroccan red bean dip with the addition of raisins and dried apricots. Again it's not like the bend of dry onion soup mix and sour cream we are accustomed to, but it's healthful." Aha! I am not the only one who remembers that onion soup dip! Funny to consider that a bean dip would be criticized. Likely because - as Mairlyn Smith tells it - beans make us "toot"! I do not consider this to be highly seasoned, but that is always a matter of taste. I won't riff on "Moroccan" right now, but I suppose the inclusion of dried fruit, cinnamon and the turmeric in the curry powder permit that label.

Here's the Recipe!

Here's the recipe (almost) the way I got it - with tiny differences from the WW original, but more so in quantities, as in 2 garlic cloves instead of one etc. etc. Keep in mind that this is going to be blitzed in a food processor at the end so no need to be fussy about fine chopping this and that. Ideal if you can make this a few hours, or a day, ahead so the flavours can blend. See variations under Tips - there are easy ways to eliminate ingredients that may be linked to food sensitivities.

Getting Ready: this doesn't take long to make, but if you want to prep...

  • chop onions, tomatoes and apricots (note that this goes into a food processor at the end so all chopping can be a bit rustic)
  • mince garlic
  • zest orange and squeeze / measure juice
  • drain / rinse beans
  • measure / mix spices

2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil.  Saute the onion and garlic until just softened, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2-3 minutes. (Some recipes suggest only 1 tsp of oil - presumably to cut calories. If necessary / desired, add a tiny bit of water before covering with a lid.)

1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 TB golden raisins
6 dried apricot halves, chopped
2 TB orange juice

Grate the rind of one small orange and set aside. Squeeze the juice from both halves of the orange, but use only about 2 TB for this part. Stir in the tomato, raisins, apricots, and orange juice. Cook, covered, 2-3 minutes.  

1 (15-ounce / 540 ml) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. chili powder (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt

Stir in the beans and spices and cook for two minutes more.  Remove from the heat, mix in orange zest and let cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, pulsing at first, and then pureeing to desired consistency.  You may need or want to add a bit of the reserved orange juice if you are aiming for a lighter, smother puree. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Notes and Tips...

  • Red onion -  these seem to come in various sizes, so it may take a half or a whole onion to get 1/2 cup. No need to do a super fine chop/mince.
  • Tomatoes - these can be plum or cherry; or you can even leave them out if someone is sensitive to tomatoes; Once I had some left over from tinned San Marazano - worked fine. Nigella has a version of this and uses 1 TB of tomato paste.
  • Raisins and apricots - there have been times when I omitted one or the other depending on what I had on hand; quantities can also be slightly tweaked.
  • Beans - I prefer to use President's Choice Blue Menu - they are low in sodium. I am thinking this might work with other types of beans also.
  • Curry powder - consider making up a batch from my recipe!
  • Variations - as I clicked around on results from a search on "Moroccan Red Bean Dip" - I noticed these variations: addition of pinch of cayenne or chili, or harissa; lemon or lime juice; parsley or cilantro; half beans and half baked sweet potato. Seems like you can make dips your own!
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