917-604-7591 [email protected]

You may be familiar with Alton Brown and his entertaining show Good Eats on the Food Network. Alton is zany, brilliant, and, at times, opinionated. His number one kitchen faux pas? Having something in your kitchen that can only do one thing. He wants you to only have tools and gadgets that multitask.

Suzen and I like to go one step further: make basic ingredient combinations that can be multitasked. Those veggies in the picture above can be used at least four ways:

  • A smooth, subtle dip
  • A salad dressing
  • A condiment for burgers and hot dogs replacing mayonnaise
  • A key component in a Mexican squash soup [coming tomorrow!]

The idea here is simple: create a great vegetable base that is available for multiple combinations. The recipe for the “base” below gives you about 2 cups of cooked vegetables, enough for the dip/dressing/condiment being presented today. And there’s enough left over for the soup you’ll see here tomorrow.

While I often preach here about doing everything from scratch, the truth is every cook needs some solid shortcuts. Here I use some store-bought salad dressing. I like the Marie’s brand, found in your refrigerated foods section. The Blue Cheese and Ranch dressing are delicious by themselves, but actually a tad overpowering. Just dipping a chip in straight salad dressing can be eye opening. Here, that striking flavor is extended with veggie tones and then muted with the addition of sour cream.

Brian’s Veggie Dip and Dressing and Condiment

Yield: 1 ½ cup

Base Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

Additional Ingredients for Dip/Dressing/Condiment:

  • ½ cup salad dressing [such as Marie’s Blue Cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Base Preparation:

Put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized cast iron skillet and heat on high. When the oil is hot, add the onions, shallots, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes on high, then another 5-10 on medium until the veggies are soft. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.

Turn off the heat and transfer the cooked veggies to a 2-cup glass measure cup. You should have about 2 cups total.

Dip/Dressing/Condiment Preparation:

Put ½ cup of the cooked veggies in a blender, ideally a Vitamix which produces a much more homogenous mixture. Reserve the remaining veggies for other recipes, or just increase the proportions here to make more dip/dressing/condiment.

Add the salad dressing. For the Vitamix, set the speed to Variable 1. Turn the machine on, then increase the speed to Variable 10 over about three seconds. Process until very smooth, just a few seconds more.

Transfer the blended ingredients to a bowl. Add the sour cream and pepper, then whisk to mix. Store until using.

Source: Brian O’Rourke