Here are two new recipes to add to your holiday entertaining repetoire. Kabocha squash and olive pomegranate walnut dips are unique, flavorful and will take you out of the everyday French onion and spinach dip rut.
Olive, pomegranate and walnut dip is also known as Zeytoon Parvardeh and originates from the northern Iranian province of Gilan, where fruit, olive and nut trees abound. Pomegranates, in peak season now, are used in two ways, for the crunchy seeds and deliciously tart pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate molasses can be purchased at Middle Eastern markets or if you are feeling a little adventurous, you can make your own by cooking down pomegranate juice with a little lemon juice, much in the same way a balsamic vinegar reduction is made. Olives, another major component in this dish, are pitted and chopped to about the size of the pomegranate seeds. My choice was a mild buttery Castelvetrano, but any variety that is briny, not bitter will work. Walnuts are traditionally used in this dish but another Middle Eastern favorite, pistachios, would be a good substitute.
This “dip” has the chunky consistency of a tapenade or a relish and in one instance I saw it referred to as a salad. We used it as a topping for fish and I could see it topping sliced lamb in a pita. If you chopped the ingredients in a food processor as it was called for in some of the versions of the recipe, it would have more of the consistency of a dip. Though tarragon compliments the flavors of the ingredients in this dish, some of the more authentic recipes called for mint and a seasoning called golpar or Persian hogweed. Used with vegetarian and bean dishes, it is often incorrectly sold labeled as angelica. Golpar translates to “rose feather” and has been described as fragrant and reminiscent of pepper or cardamom. Sounds like something I will have to seek out in the future.
We use winter squash in soups, casseroles and side dishes, why not in a dip? I improvised this recipe with ingredients I had in my kitchen. The honeyed sweetness and custardy texture of kabocha squash is a natural for a dip. The goat cheese brings a little creamy saltiness and contrasts with the heat of the curry powder. Sweet or hot curry powder would work according to your taste.The juice of a lemon brightens all the flavors. Kabocha squash dip is a natural for pita triangles or vegetable crudite. Serve the olive, pomegranate and walnut dip with crostini that has been topped with a thin layer of chevre.
Green Olive, Walnut and Pomegranate Dip
Makes 2 1/4cups
- 1/2c walnuts
- 2c pitted briny green olives, finely chopped
- 1/2c pomegranate seeds
- 3T pomegranate molasses
- 3T finely chopped tarragon
- 3T extra virgin olive oil
- 1T red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake until toasted, 10 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.
- In a bowl, mix the walnuts with the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita chips, crudité or as a topping for fish.
Makes 2 1/2 cups
- 1 small Kabocha squash
- 4oz soft goat cheese at room temperature
- 1/3c tahini
- 2t or more curry powder (mild, hot, your choice)
- Juice of one small lemon
- Half and half or cream to thin out texture
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut Kabocha squash into 2″ wedges, place on a baking sheet cut side up and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake squash until tender and browned in spots, about 45 minutes. Check half way through baking to flip the tray around. Let squash cool.
- Scrape two packed cups squash from the skin, save any additional squash for another use. Put squash, goat cheese, tahini, curry powder, juice of a lemon in a food processor and pulse until nearly smooth. Add a little cream to thin out, pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and additional curry powder if desired.
- Scrape into a bowl and serve with crackers or crudité.