• The Listener
  • North & South
  • Noted
  • RNZ

Spice up your summer with these vege-filled dip recipes

Beetroot, date, dill and yogurt dip; avocado, lemon and tomato dip. Photo/Liz Clarkson; styling by Kate Arbuthnot
Dip is a classic accompaniment to Kiwi summer barbecues. I have fond memories of the onion dip of my childhood, made with a can of Nestlé reduced cream, a packet of Maggi onion soup mix and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Invented by home economist Rosemary Dempsey in the early 1960s, when she was working in the Nestlé test kitchen, it has become a Kiwi institution that is still made everywhere in the country almost 60 years later. My kids think it is delicious and will turn up at the bach with the ingredients and bags of potato chips.

New Zealand cooks have invented many dips since then, often made with fresh vegetables and herbs as well as mayonnaise, coconut cream, thick yogurt and fresh lemon juice.

These dip recipes are fabulously simple as they do not require any cooking. When I was a private chef living in Paris nearly 40 years ago, I would often buy beetroot for summer salads in the market and marvel that it was always pre-cooked. It has taken years for anyone to do this on a commercial scale in New Zealand, but the vacuum-packed pre-cooked bags of beetroot now in supermarkets are well worth keeping in the refrigerator at home. The beetroot is great chopped into salads or blended into a dip.

Macro alias: ModuleRenderer

For the coconut and pea dip, I have suggested using fresh peas, but if that seems like too much work, frozen peas work just as well. My avocado dip is a favourite with kids and adults alike and is a great way to use up avocados that are starting to show their age.

Beetroot, date, dill and yogurt dip

300g cooked beetroot
3 soft, pitted dates
4 tbsp pine nuts
4 tbsp thick Greek yogurt
3 tbsp chopped dill
1 lemon, zest and juice
sea salt and pepper


1 large carrot, peeled and cut into sticks
2 stalks celery, cut into sticks
8 baby radishes, washed and quartered

Chop the beetroot and dates into very small chunks, add to a food processor with the pine nuts and blend into a purée. Add the yogurt, dill, lemon zest and juice and blend briefly to combine. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn into a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve (it will keep for 2-3 days).

Serve with carrot, celery and radishes. Alternatively, serve with fresh beans, courgette sticks and anything else fresh you have in your garden.

Makes 1 large cup of dip
Wine match: light rosé

Spicy green pea, coconut and herb dip. Photo/Liz Clarkson; styling by Kate Arbuthnot

Spicy green pea, coconut and herb dip

250g fresh or frozen peas
150g thick coconut cream
4 tbsp chopped coriander
4 tbsp chopped mint, plus extra mint leaves to garnish
1 tsp hot chilli sauce
1 lime, zest and juice
salt and pepper
sprinkling of chilli flakes
pita bread, to serve
twice-toasted sourdough, to serve

If using frozen peas, cook in a saucepan of salted, boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water. Once they are dry, purée with a stick blender or in a food processor (don’t make the peas too smooth as a little texture is good).

Spoon the coconut cream (use the thick cream at the top of the can) onto the peas and stir in with the coriander, mint, chilli sauce (use more if you like spicy food), lime zest and juice and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

Sprinkle with chilli flakes and extra mint leaves and serve with fingers of pita bread and thinly sliced sourdough toast.

Makes 1 large cup of dip
Wine match: sauvignon blanc

Avocado, lemon and tomato dip

2 large ripe avocados
2 lemons, juice and zest
4 small ripe tomatoes
1/2 small red onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed
corn chips, to serve
fresh vegetables, to serve

Mash the avocado flesh, adding all the zest and the juice of 11/2 lemons. Finely chop the tomatoes and red onion and stir through the avocado. Add the salt and pink peppercorns,then taste and add more lemon juice if it is not tangy enough.

Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface of the dip (exposure to air can spoil the colour) until needed. Serve with blue corn or regular corn chips and fresh vegetables.

Makes 1 large cup of dip
Wine match: chardonnay

Accompaniments and other ways with dips

The dips on these pages can also be served with beef, pork or lamb cuts, sausages and other barbecued food as a sauce on the side.

To accompany any dip or spread choose from the following:

  • Bread sticks
  • Crackers
  • Toast
  • Pita bread, cut into strips or triangles
  • Potato crisps (be wary of flavoured crisps, which will spoil the flavour of the dip)
  • Corn chips
  • Kumara and other vegetable chips
  • Poppadoms
  • Flat breads, Persian or Indian-style
  • Rounds of French bread
  • Focaccia

Vegetables can be cut into strips or bite-sized pieces. Serve them raw or lightly blanched. To refresh the vegetables, drop them into ice-cold water for 10 minutes before serving. Choose from the following:

  • Asparagus
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Courgette
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower
  • Crunchy lettuce leaves
  • Capsicum
  • Fennel

This article was first published in the January 5, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.