A DIP into something delicious can be enjoyed in any weather and is a convivial way of eating with friends and family.
One of the healthiest for dipping is batons of cucumber.
Make them 3cm long to avoid double dipping. People are fussy about seeing your teethmarks on a piece of anything going back into the pot.
Celery works well too, especially with heavier hummous. Peeled small carrots are good left whole, larger ones halved, then quartered.
If fresh asparagus is still around and slim, it doesn’t need to be cooked and is great dipped into something cheesey, like feta mixed with a little yoghurt.
Roasted pitta bread is good too.
Using a blender or a hand whisk, dips are easily made. Green herbs added to cream cheese or crème fraiche is delicious. Buzz some parsley or watercress first, then add the cream cheese and buzz again.
I add fresh thyme too. Taste and add lemon, juice, salt, pepper to taste.
Make your own hummous (we kept producers’ varied spellings below – all are correct) by buzzing a can of chickpeas with some of its canned water, lemon juice and dried cumin.
While tahini is usually part of the recipe, it’s not essential. Instead, buzz up a few peanuts or other nuts if you have them to hand.
As we tasted so many different types of dips, we scored on how each excited us, rather than competing for top score.
Made from marinated cod roe, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, rapeseed oil, salt and onions, this has a wonderful, creamy texture. The taste is fishy, and while the roe itself delivers some natural saltiness, it is spiked with just the right amount of added salt and lemon.
The onion serves to deepen the flavour. Even our non-fish lovers liked this one best of all. Delish with cucumber or celery batons.
250g €1.19 (€4.80/kg)
Chickpeas here were a little undercooked so texture was a bit gritty. The roasted red peppers did not dominate and the sesame seed paste gave it typically good depth of flavour. Garlic purée listed was not discernible.
Tasters liked it well enough. Good with celery and, like the others, to add to the end of a stir-fry to make a sauce.
326g €4.93 (€14.50/kg)
There is a very good feta dip at this English Market Cork stall but this mix of chickpeas, roasted cashews, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, cumin and salt won me over when I was shopping.
Classical with the addition of cashew which give it a toastiness, it is balanced by the fresh basil flavour and aroma. Delicious! Good with carrots, celery, cucumber.
200g €4 (€20/kg)
Used frequently in recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi, it’s great to be able to get proper Labneh in Cork. Made from straining yoghurt for at least a day, it loses some of its moisture and becomes creamier.
Here it has the addition of za’atar, a mix made in-house of toasted white sesame, thyme, sumac, marjoram and oregano. The real deal and delicious.
200g €2.95 (€14.75/kg)
Made in Union Hall, this bright, fresh tasting hummus was liked by most tasters.
One found the chickpeas undercooked and a bit gritty, but would still buy it. The tahini (sesame) paste addition was in the right balance, but there was no discernible coriander in our tub. Available Bradleys North Main Street, Cork.
170g €2.49 (€14.64/kg)
A nice amount of sun-dried tomatoes lifted this chickpea and sesame seed mixture with a lively acidity from the lemon juice.
Tasters agreed it was worth including in the Top 8.
182g €2.30 (€12.63)
A lovely sweet taste of cooked onion is added to chickpeas with less flavour of tahini – sesame seed paste. A light, fluffy texture was liked by all tasters.
Their organic hummus was good too.
200g €4.50 (€22.50/kg)
Beetroot is the dominant flavour here, and it is fresh and natural. Chickpeas provide the body, while tahini, garlic and lemon juice are in the background.
Good with bread, it could be mixed into yoghurt or mayonnaise (also available in the Princes Street, Cork café/shop) for a change. Pricey, but good, was the verdict.
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