5 min read

Stone Soup #20: Dip It Good - Smashed Garlic Dip, Cheese-free Cheesy Dip, French Onion Dip

All dip is Fun Dip if you have gumption

Stone Soup is an ongoing quarantine feature in which I come up with a recipe that uses the impossible thing in your cupboard, without making you go to the store or wasting any of your ingredients. Last time, we puffed spelt.

Maddy says:

So when I moved back in September, I went on a big grocery shopping trip and somehow ended up with a can of hearts of palm. I make lots of curries and stir fries but I am not convinced that these would work in such a dish? And various google searches have not returned any recipes that I think would actually work/be delicious/use things I have in my pantry.

Speaking of pantry items here is a list in no particular order: various flours (quinoa, almond, cake, regular), eggs, butter, various spices, brown rice, curry paste, coconut milk, various alliums (slowly shedding their papery skins all over my counter), carrots/celery, frozen veggies and fruits, various dried and canned legumes, applesauce, sugar/cocoa powder, peanut butter, tomato sauce/paste, lemons/limes. It might be worth mentioning that I don't have a ton of sugar right now and I only have oat milk instead of normal cow juice.

I am not afraid of making substitutions when I don't have an ingredient (recipes are just suggestions), and past roommates have described my cooking style as "good results but chaotic and stressful to watch". I am also a very bad baker for those same reasons. I try to be plant based as much as possible, but have relaxed in that regard since this whole pandemic thing started.

Oh, fuck yeah. I’m a big fan of hearts of palm. If you’re unfamiliar, think of these babies as artichoke hearts with firmer flesh and a slightly more delicate flavor. They’re really versatile. Since Maddy mentioned being meatless, I find it relevant to note that lots of vegan friends of mine use hearts of palm as a substitute for crab in dips and cakes. They are in fact stellar in curries and stir-fries, and if you have the capacity to deep-fry them and dip them in red sauce, I think your life will be much-improved by the experience.

Looking at what Maddy has available, I think it’s time we talk about one of my favorite decadences:

Dip for Dinner

I love dip, you guys. I love it endlessly and unapologetically. I love it because it acknowledges that the best part of a meal is the condiments. Dip says “you know how much you love sauce? Well, now it’s the star of the table.” I also love how dominant it is — dip doesn’t give a fuck what you pair it with, because everything is just going to wind up tasting like dip. Dip knows what’s good.

We usually treat dip as an appetizer, because we’re afraid to realize our full potential. No more of that. We’re in the end-times; this is the moment to let your id run riot.

In all of the below recipes, use a single, well-drained can of hearts of palm. I’ll note other things you can use instead of hearts of palm, so you can use these dip recipes wherever you like.

Option One: Smashed Garlic Dip.
This sure couldn’t be any fucking easier.

  • Smash a couple of cloves of garlic with the side of a knife.
  • Toss them into a blender or food processor along with hearts of palm, the juice and zest of half a lemon, a glug of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Pulse until you’ve got a smooth spread. Serve with a drizzle of chili oil on top if that’s your kind of thing.

If you don’t have hearts of palm, try artichoke hearts, chickpeas, beans, or a combination of canned asparagus + peas.

Option Two: Cheese-free cheesy dip
This one calls for mayonnaise; if you don’t have any on-hand, find my super-easy recipe here.

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Do it now, before you forget.
  • Chop up half of an onion. Put a pan on very very low heat and drop the chopped onion in. Sprinkle it with salt and drizzle it with oil. Spend the rest of your prep time occasionally stirring the onions as they sloooowly soften. Take them off the heat when they’re soft and translucent.
  • Put .75C breadcrumbs into a bowl. Add a hearty drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. Stir well, then toss this into a pan over high heat and move it around for a few minutes until it’s toasty and fragrant. This is “peasant parmesan” and I make it whenever I don’t have parmesan cheese handy. If you feel like it, you can use .5C grated parm instead. I’ll never know.
  • Smash a couple of cloves of garlic.
  • Throw into a food processor or blender: .5C prepared breadcrumbs, .25C mayonnaise, 1 can hearts of palm, all that cooked onion, the smashed garlic, 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, plus all the seasoning in the world. I would lean heavily on herbs here: rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, oregano. Pulse to combine.
  • Pour it all into a baking dish that looks big enough and bake 17 minutes. Stir and top with the leftover breadcrumbs (or cheese, if you feel like it). Pop it under the broiler until it’s golden-brown, 5-7 minutes.

If you don’t have hearts of palm here, you can use artichoke hearts.

Option 3: French Onion Palm Dip

Hearts of Palm add some really great creamy texture when they’re pureed, so I think we can get away with this one. Let’s try it out.

  • Chop up an entire red onion. Now put a big skillet over low heat and add a small amount of oil, a pinch of salt, and all your chopped onion. Stir a couple of times to get everything blended together. This is going to take a long-ass time to caramelize, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Just come back to the pan every few minutes to give it a stir. The trick to caramelizing these onions is this: you shouldn’t be able to hear them cooking. Sizzling means that the onions are frying or boiling in their own juices, which isn’t the goal. If you can hear a lot of noise coming out of that pan, lower the heat.
  • Toss your hearts of palm into a food processor or blender along with a quarter-cup of mayonnaise. If you have greek yogurt or sour cream, add a quarter-cup of that too — they’ll deliver a tang that’s important to french onion dip — but don’t stress too much if you don’t have them handy. The onions will carry us home. Also throw in a pinch of salt, a decent amount of pepper, and a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or tamari. Pulse to combine.
  • When the onions are fully caramelized, they’ll be rich and brown and they’ll smell incredible. Once they’re in that blessed state, pour a cup or so of beef or vegetable stock into the pan and turn the heat to medium. Stir well, scraping the sides and bottoms of the pan to deglaze it, and then let it simmer until that liquid is almost all gone.
  • Remove onions from the heat and stir them into your palm heart puree.

If you don’t have hearts of palm, use a cup and a half of greek yogurt, or a 6-oz block of softened cream cheese. Spoon the results directly into my face.

Those are the best options I’ve got for hearts of palm, but if you’re going to do Dip for Dinner, consider adding buffalo chicken dip, spinach-artichoke dip, hummus, fondue, seven-layer dip, taco dip, and queso dip to the table. Your goal should be to acquire gout by the end of the meal. Sin boldly, friends.