Whenever someone suggests bringing store-bought salsa to a party, my inner self shouts out a big “Noooo!” That’s because jarred salsa freaks me out. Why is it that something that’s supposed to be made from fresh vegetables can just sit there in a jar on a store shelf for months? How can those limp tomatoes and odd bits of tomato skin be remotely appetizing? And why does store-bought salsa always taste surprisingly sweet?
A part of me wants to apologize for sounding like a snob, but I am not even sorry. And don’t get me started on packaged guacamole… *full body eyeroll*
Whenever a situation calls for a dip, I like to make one from scratch – whether it’s salsa, queso, or something more special like muhammara. That way, I can have the exact texture and flavor that I like, and not have to worry about strange chemicals or preservatives that are always looming in store-bought stuff. With Memorial Day and a plethora of backyard barbecues coming up in our collective future, I figured now would be the perfect time for a recipe like this.
This past weekend, I was invited to a potluck party and decided to bring a dip as well as this chickpea-chocolate chip cake. Then I remembered a story that was featured in Bon Appetit last year – a formula from Anna Jones for making pretty much any bean-based dip your heart desires. I settled on a black bean dip and turned to one of my favorite flavor combos: cilantro, cumin and lime.
This dip comes together ridiculously quickly, and you probably already have everything you need to make it in your kitchen. It’s creamy, garlicky, acidic, a bit smoky from the paprika, and fragrant thanks to the cilantro. The beans’ high fiber and protein content makes this dip healthy and satiating, and a great alternative to hummus. And instead of store-bought chips (are you surprised?), I brought it over with baked plantains.
Tostones are typically deep-fried, which is neither healthy nor economical. Baked tostones are way healthier, and require a little less effort, too. Plantains are an awesome addition to a healthy diet since they are high in fiber and potassium. They are also lower on the glycemic index than some other starchy produce (e.g. white potatoes), which means they don’t raise your blood sugar as much. Lastly, they’re really cheap – my local supermarket sells them two for a dollar.
- About 3 cups boiling water
- 2 green plantains
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- One 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ small garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons filtered water
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Pinch of hot red pepper flakes, to garnish
- Pinch of ground cumin, to garnish
- To make the plantains, preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- Trim the ends of the plantains and cut a lengthwise slit along each plantain, taking care not to cut through the flesh. Place the plantains into a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes (this makes them easier to peel).
- Peel the plantains and cut them into ⅓" slices. In a bowl, toss the plantains with the oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Lay on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and using the bottom of a glass, press on each slice to thin it out. Return to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.
- Meanwhile, make the dip. In a small skillet, toast the cumin seeds on low heat until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- In a food processor, combine the beans, garlic, water, lime juice, oil, paprika, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and toasted cumin. Puree until smooth. Taste and season with more salt or lime juice, if needed. Remove the blade and stir in 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.
- Scrape the dip into a serving bowl, drizzle with a bit of oil, and sprinkle with the pepper flakes, cumin, and the remaining tablespoon of cilantro. (The dip can be made up to a day in advance. Hold off on the garnishes until right before serving).