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Cooling Snacks for Easy Summer Entertaining

May 30, 2014

It’s summertime, and the entertaining’s easy: Pool parties, cookouts, and campfires call for casual snacks that are easily toted and shared. These easy and addictive make-ahead dips and spreads are equally suited for potlucks, drop-in guests, and spontaneous snack attacks. Serve them with chips or crudite, or smear them on sandwiches.

Related: Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family

Minty Pea Dip

This bright blend uses traditional hummus ingredients like tahini, garlic, and lemon to give minted sweet-pea puree a Mediterranean backbone.

3 cups frozen green peas
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoons tahini
Coarse salt and pepper

1. Cook peas in salted boiling water until tender, 1 minute. Transfer to an ice-water bath; drain.

2. Pulse peas in a food processor with mint, lemon zest and juice, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and tahini.

3. Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with oil.

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Beets and Yogurt with Pickled Rose Petals

Feeling fancy? This stunning melange of yogurt, roasted beets, spiced hazelnuts, and pickled rose petals is a statement dish but oh-so easy to make.

Coarse salt
1 bunch baby Chioggia beets (about 12 ounces), root end and 1 inch of stem attached, gently scrubbed and rinsed
1 bunch baby red beets (about 12 ounces), root end and 1 inch of stem attached, gently scrubbed and rinsed
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (about 3 1/2 inches long)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
Pickled Rose Petals (optional), for garnish, plus 1 tablespoon pickling liquid (optional), for drizzling

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously season with coarse salt. Add all beets, reduce heat, and simmer until beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain beets; when cool enough to handle, gently rub with a paper towel (or use a paring knife) to remove the skin, keeping as much of the root end intact as possible. Transfer beets to a bowl, cover to keep warm, and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add allspice, bay leaves, and cinnamon and cook until butter is nutty in aroma and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour butter through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Whisk 1 teaspoon coarse salt and hazelnuts into brown butter.

3. Spread yogurt on a platter and sprinkle with flaky salt. Arrange beets on yogurt, spoon brown butter and nuts on top, and sprinkle with dill and more flaky salt. Garnish with rose petals and drizzle with pickling liquid; serve immediately.

Related: 22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes

Caramelized-Poblano-Chile-and-Onion Dip

Chip fiends will flip for this spicy, sophisticated take on onion dip. Cream-cheese-and-chive fans should try this version, made lighter by Greek yogurt.

1/4 cup safflower oil
3 cups diced white onion (from 1 large onion)
3 fresh poblano chiles, seeds and ribs removed, diced (3 cups)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
Coarse salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
Cut-up cucumbers, jicama, and radishes, or chips, for serving

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, chiles, coriander, and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onion and chiles are tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

2. Stir together lime juice, cream cheese, and sour cream in a large bowl, using a rubber spatula, until smooth. Stir in onion mixture. Season with salt if necessary. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Sprinkle with cayenne. Serve with cut-up vegetables or chips.

Tahini-and-Honey Dip

Easiest of all: For a can’t-quit-it sweet-and-savory bite, stir one part honey into two parts tahini, and serve with crisp apple wedges.

Related: 19 Easy Barbecue Recipes to Make This Season

Lemon, Sesame, and Garlic Hummus

Toasted sesame seeds and a flurry of citrus zest elevate this hummus beyond what you’ll find at your local falafel joint.

1-3 garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (15-ounce) garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon orange peel, minced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon peel, minced

1. In a blender or food processor, combine garlic, olive oil, sesame seeds, tahini, lemon juice, and garbanzo beans (reserve about a tablespoon of beans for garnish). Blend, adding reserved garbanzo-bean liquid if needed until hummus reaches desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Transfer the mixture to a medium serving bowl. Garnish in the middle with reserved garbanzo beans. Sprinkle orange and lemon peel around the beans. Chill in the refrigerator, tightly covered, until ready to serve.

Classic Roasted Salsa

Mexico has long had dip down to a science, be it salsa, guacamole, or something more exotic. More south-of-the-border action right this way.

2 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium white onion, halved
3 jalapenos
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cook’s Note
If you prefer less heat, use fewer jalapenos or just remove the ribs and seeds.
For green salsa, use 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos in place of tomatoes and omit the lime juice.

1. Heat broiler, with rack in top position. Place tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and garlic in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Broil until vegetables are blistered and slightly softened, rotating sheet and flipping vegetables frequently, 6 to 8 minutes (garlic may need to be removed earlier if it is browning too quickly).

3. Discard garlic skins. In a food processor, pulse garlic and vegetables until coarsely pureed. Add lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine.

4. Transfer salsa to a bowl and stir in cilantro.

Avocado and White Bean Dip

Avocado and creamy white beans join forces in this protein-rich riff on guacamole. For a more Italian take on bean dip, try this, which is flavored with olive oil and fresh rosemary.

2 cans (15.5 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 avocados
4 garlic cloves
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Coarse salt

1. In a food processor, combine beans, avocados, garlic, parsley, vinegar, red-pepper flakes, and 6 tablespoons water. Season with salt. Process until smooth. Serve sprinkled with red-pepper flakes, if desired.

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