A "professional" party host needs a well-stocked pantry to keep up with last-minute, spur-of-the-moment parties. Keep a stash of dips in your pantry plus a set of saltine crackers, crostini, chips, and pita. Celery, carrots and cucumber are great too, but try to buy them fresh, when possible.
Dips are versatile because they’re not just for chips or crackers. They can be used as salad dressing, sandwich spread, or even as a sauce for your chosen meat. Store-bought dips will make your life easier, but you can also whip up your own if you want them fresh and adjusted according to your taste. Just remember that DIY dips have a shorter shelf-life.
There are many dip variations out there, but here are five essential dips that you’ll never go wrong with. They come with a simple recipe which you can jazz up according to your liking – chunky, smooth, tangy, etc.
Photo Credit: Serious Eats
Guacamole is the perfect go-to dip because it’s guilt-free, delicious, and rich in fiber and vitamins.This Mexican dip goes well with chips and nachos but it’s a satisfying spread for burgers too.
If you decide to make your own guacamole, remember that lime and cilantro are the key to giving it that wonderful zing. Increase portions of these key ingredients according to your liking but take it easy because too much of these will make your guacamole sour or bitter. Fresh cilantro adds heavenly fragrance to fresh guacamole. For a little kick, throw in some chili!
This recipe from Serious Eats can get you started.
Photo Credit: Women's Day
Ah, guacamole’s partner-in-crime. Salsa means “sauce”, so it’s really just not limited to tomato. You can make salsa with mango, strawberry, grilled pineapple, cucumber, or corn – almost any fruit or vegetable! But it’s usually tomato salsa that’s under everyone’s radar though, so keep this one in stock. Store-bought tomato salsa has a chunky variant, but nothing beats the chunkiness of homemade salsa. If you have more adventurous guests, you can throw in mango or grilled pineapple. They both go well with grilled meat.
Here’s a good starter recipe for chunky salsa from Women’s Day. If you want a smoother texture, give your sauce a few runs on the food processor.
Photo Credit: Food Viva
You really cannot go wrong with cheese to satisfy everyone’s savory cravings. Since cheese is sensitive with a comparatively short shelf-life, it’s best to grab a bottle from the store for a longer shelf-life.
But if you get a kick out of making your own dips, here’s a simple recipe from Food Viva. Health-conscious people can substitute the mayo for Greek yogurt. Minced garlic instead of garlic paste will make your cheese dip chunkier.
Photo Credit: New York Times Food
Pesto is a dip and pasta sauce at the same time. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone! Pesto is every life-hack lover’s pantry staple. It’s good with tomato salsa and crostini. You can also throw in rotisserie chicken or canned tuna for a quick pesto meal.
Here’s a starter recipe from New York Times Food. Perhaps add more olive oil if you want a more runny batch for pasta.
Photo Credit: The Kitchn
This treasure from the Middle East made of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic is very satisfying and fills you up quickly. If you have extra time up your sleeves, you can make deviled eggs with hummus for an eye-catching and mouth-watering hors d`oeuvres.
Tahini isn’t a readily available ingredient but here’s a great recipe from The Kitchn if you can get a hold of it.