To break up the typical heaviness of your average Super Bowl spread, squeeze some healthy, delicious dips among the hot wings and chili. Start with charred eggplant, which makes a smoky base for a lively dip with rich tahini, bright lemon, and tart pomegranate molasses; an optional tomato-cucumber relish freshens it up. Spice up a honey-sweetened yogurt dip — which takes just 5 minutes to make — with coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. And for a little more substance, add hard-boiled eggs to an avocado salsa that’s like a Colombian version of guacamole.
Colombian Avocado Salsa (Ají de Aguacate)
Makes 3½ cups
Colombian food does not tend to be spicy, so we seed the chilies for this salsa. The Anaheims give the sauce a deep pepper flavor, while the habanero adds fruitiness and heat.
Fully ripe avocados, which make thin salsa, don’t work in this recipe. The avocados should give only slightly when pressed.
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 Anaheim chilies, stemmed, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch pieces
1 habanero chili, stemmed and seeded
1¼ cups lightly packed fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 ripe avocados (see headnote), halved and pitted, divided use
3 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled and chopped, divided use
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 plum tomato, cored and finely chopped
In a food processor, process the scallions and all 3 chilies until finely chopped, about 20 seconds. Add the cilantro, vinegar, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Process until the cilantro is finely chopped, about 10 seconds, scraping the sides as needed.
In a medium bowl, mash the flesh from 2 avocado halves and ‚ of the chopped eggs with a fork until mostly smooth but with some lumps. Roughly chop the remaining 4 avocado halves and transfer to the bowl. Add the lime juice and fold with a silicone spatula to combine.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chopped tomato and 2 tablespoons of the remaining chopped eggs for garnish. Mix the remaining tomato and eggs into the avocado mixture, then gently fold in the chili-cilantro mixture. Taste and season with salt.
Transfer the salsa to a serving bowl and top with reserved tomato and chopped eggs.
Eggplant and Tahini Dip (Mutabal)
Makes 6 to 8 servings
The roasted eggplant and tahini dip called mutabal (also spelled mutabbal or moutabal) is what many of us in the United States think of as baba ghanoush. We found that even in the Middle East, where both dips originate, the names often are used interchangeably, though baba ghanoush typically includes other ingredients, such as tomato and walnuts. Jordanian home cook Ihab Muhtaseb taught us his method for making mutabal, which we love for its complex flavors and textures. This adaptation of his recipe includes chopped parsley, which adds fresh, grassy notes, and a finishing drizzle of pomegranate molasses for tangy-sweet contrast.
If you’d like to further embellish the mutabal, as many restaurants in Jordan do, make the simple tomato-cucumber salad that follows and spoon it on top just before serving. Offer warm flatbread on the side.
Be sure to pierce the eggplants before roasting them. This allows steam to escape during cooking, which not only prevents the eggplants from bursting, but also allows them to shed some of their abundant moisture, resulting in a richer flavor and texture.
2 large or 3 medium eggplants (about 2½ pounds)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1/3 cup tahini
3 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup lightly packed, fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, divided use
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Heat the oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Pierce each eggplant several times with the tip of a knife, then coat all over with 1 tablespoon of the oil each. Set the eggplants on the prepared baking sheet and roast until collapsed, wrinkled, and blistered all over, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes.
With the eggplants still on the baking sheet, trim off and discard the stem. Slit each in half lengthwise and open it up. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skin onto a cutting board; discard the skins. Finely chop the eggplant but don’t break it down to a puree; it should retain some texture.
In a medium bowl, stir together the tahini and ¼ cup boiling water. Add the eggplant, garlic, and lemon juice; stir until well combined, then mix in half of the parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the remaining parsley, and the pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, and a drizzle of oil. Top with some of the Tomato, Cucumber, and Green Chili Salad (recipe follows), if using.
Tomato, Cucumber, and Green Chili Salad
Makes about 1¼ cups
This fresh, bright salad, spooned onto mutabal just before serving, adds color, texture, and a little heat to the smoky, silky dip. Throw it together while the eggplant is roasting.
1 medium ripe tomato, cored and chopped
1 Persian cucumber, chopped
1 jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, toss together the tomato, cucumber, jalapeño, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Taste and season, if necessary.
Spiced Yogurt Dip
Makes about 1 cup
Our spiced yogurt dip was inspired by Madhur Jaffrey, a Delhi-born actress, cookbook author, and television chef who has spent decades exploring the food of her homeland and beyond. We love the yogurt dressing in her book Vegetarian India. The warm spices in this thick dressing work with everything from simple salads of romaine or spinach to poached salmon, herbed chickpeas, and roasted vegetables, such as beets, cauliflower, and broccoli. Use it to dress farro or barley salads, as a dipping sauce for whole artichokes, over warm or room-temperature potatoes, or with grilled or roasted lamb. For a thinner consistency, add water a tablespoon at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Because it is made without herbs or much garlic, it refrigerates well for up to five days.
Don’t overdo the garlic. More than ƒ teaspoon of finely grated raw garlic — use a wand-style grater — overpowers the dressing.
1 cup plain, whole-milk, Greek-style yogurt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon finely grated fresh garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
3½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, cayenne, and garlic. Add the oil, vinegar, and honey, then whisk until smooth. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to reach desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
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