Spreads and Dips are the Unsung Hero of Quarantine Eating (Plus 3 Recipes)

Unconventional Food Hack: Make a Nutrient Dip to Last You the Week

I totally fucked up a half-made-up eggplant stick recipe last night, so I’m not not feeling somewhat defeated by the kitchen for showing me what’s what after I got on my Contessa high horse and tried to replace parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast, resulting in a sheet pan full of eggplant slices dusted in almond flour and yeast, but you live and you learn, I guess.

Whoa, what a sentence. Thanks for sticking through it.

The eggplant sticks were supposed to trick us into thinking he/I/we were eating mozzarella sticks even though they were just decorative lampshade veggies (yes, I know they’re actually called nightshade vegetables; WHAT IS YOUR POINT?) but in the end—jokes on me!—they were just… roasted eggplant slices dusted in almond flour and yeast.

The kitchen can be so confronting, you know? The difference between a good and bad day. What’s up and what’s down. What’s cooking and… spoiling. But on the bright side (what is this quarantine if not an opportunity to pursue the silver lining?), I did have a serving of yummy and delicious lentil dip to dunk (and effectively erase) my eggplant into—a recent fridge mainstay (the dip, I mean) that I did not expect would become the greatest of my comestible life upgrades but now very strongly recommend that you prioritize making. I will explain the logic in further detail after the recipe, which I’m pretty sure I’ve run through before, but once more, for posterity, here it is:

Unconventional Food Hack: Make a Nutrient Dip to Last You the Week

Sauté one small white onion and 3 cloves of garlic until they’re so soft you can mistake them for your sense of motivation, melting as the days, and nothing else, progress

Toast a cup of walnuts on a sheet pan (12 minutes in the oven at 350)

Drain a can of lentils, then pour them into a blender with the sautéed onion, garlic, and nuts

Add a tablespoon of white miso if you have it (but tbh, you don’t need to). I add two tablespoons because I love miso-much.

Drizzle about 1/3 a cup’s worth of olive oil 

Plus! Shit loads of salt and pepper shaker shakes.

And now? You blend. You make a bad joke if you cohabitate with a no-joy-dieter and tell them their blended nuts are coming right up and watch as your irritability and anxiety and the heart palpitations mix together, then hope what comes out will make those feelings disappear, or at the very least, become edible. Once you’re done, you pour that shit into a bowl and you tell me: how does it taste? 

Good? Last week I made babaganoush and am still plowing through the last licks. The week before it was a basil hummus. Next week I think I’ll try this vegan spinach artichoke dip but in the meantime, let me explain why keeping dip in your fridge is like the nourishment equivalent of calling a tulle top a wardrobe essential.

As long as you have the vehicles—crackers or carrot sticks or bread or defeated eggplant—there is always something available to enliven them. And if you are strategic about the dip you make—using nutrient-dense ingredients like chickpeas or lentils, you also ingest the added benefit of not torturing your digestive system or abandoning the guardrails of what is considered healthy eating.

A can of chick peaks A tablespoon of tahini The juice of one whole lemon and recently too, some of its zest A pinch that feels more like a punch of salt A pinch that is actually a pinch of pepper Two or three minced garlic cloves And if you want to add basil, by all means! I bet arugula would be good too but what the hell do I know.

Aside from that, I don’t know how routinely you are taking yourself to the fridge these days, but going there—I mean Going There—has become the Grande Sortie of my day. I get dressed up (put on pants), I roll up my sleeves, I walk to the fridge and am like, “Greetings, door bin. What have you for me today?”

When that option is a dip I can put in a bowl next to, I don’t know, some olives, a plate of crackers, or cut-up vegetables, I feel extravagant and carefree, like I’m having mezze in Greece, wind blowing through my caftan even though I’m in leggings I haven’t changed out of in days and underwear in even longer. Then! When all is said and done, I’m full. Not full like holy-shit-I-think-I’m-gonna-die-that-was-too-much-sugar-but-I-couldn’t-stop-in-fact-I’ll-probably-do-it-again-maybe-in-20-minutes-maybe-tomorrow more just like, responsibly satisfied.

Yes! Responsibly. Satisfied.

And, particularly in the case of hummus, that shit is easy to make. You basically need a blender and a pantry and you’re set. My hummus recipe includes:

Unconventional Food Hack: Make a Nutrient Dip to Last You the Week

Once all of these ingredients are in the blender, you press “on,” sing to it—”Blender, blender, you’re so tender,” eyyyyyy vwala: put it on toast, drop a radish in, give it a dash of paprika or simply marvel in how a form of nourishment that once seemed as frivolous as a tulle top can become essential.

As for the eggplant dip:

12 ounces fresh Italian sausage (about 3 links), casings removed

Roast the fuck out of two eggplants by putting it in your oven on broil for 20 minutes, with some fork marks in it so it can ~breathe~ in the heat

Pull it out and wait for it to cool off. Maybe give yourself a chance to cool off too, idk!

Cut it open down the middle (once you’re both calm), then spoon all the flesh out. Sorry I’m calling it flesh, it grosses me out when other people do this but now that I am here, in a position to do it myself, I can’t actually think of a better way to describe the sensation of excavating the insides of my favorite lampshades

Put the flesh in a blender with the juice of half a lemon, a good amount of smoked Spanish paprika, half a tablespoon of tahini, and another punch of salt. Really give yourself a shiner, eyyyyyyyyyyy vwala: you are now officially the recipient of three recipes you have absolutely no reason to trust but a concept that I can promise might make these shapeless-ass days a little spicier.

Oh! Chili flakes. Add chili flakes too. And that’s all I’ve got for you. Until then, yours truly,


Yes, kitchen.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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