Avocado Basil Dip

I've never been much of a sports person. When I was growing up, I was bored to tears on a weekly basis as my brother and parents gathered around the TV on Sundays to watch "the game,"i.e the Patriots playing football, the Red Sox playing baseball, or the Celtics playing basketball. The family television was occupied for what seemed like forever -- especially those baseball games -- and I remember watching as everyone else reacted to the events on the screen with either cheers or groans of disappointment (this was my only indication of what was happening, as I've never understood all the rules of sports anyways). I entertained myself in various ways, looking for the best looking players on the team, deciding which team had the better uniforms, and, best of all, enjoying the game-watching-snacks my mom would make. We had onion dip with potato chips, honey barbecue chicken wings, and spicy chili, just to name a few. If we were lucky, my mom would prepare the ever-so-popular bean dip, made with beans (obviously,) sour cream, and three types of cheeses, all layered and baked in the oven and served with tortilla chips. It was not at all light, healthy, or classy -- but it was delicious in all its cheesy, greasy glory, and hey, everything in moderation, right? 

I'm a grown up now,  which means I no longer live at home and no longer have to watch sports on television -- nope, I don't even follow soccer here in Italy -- and I must say, my taste in snacks has grown up too. Today's recipe for Avocado Basil Dip is worlds away from my childhood bean dip, slightly more sophisticated and fresh and flavorful, made with creamy avocado, tangy yogurt, spicy garlic, tart lemon, and herb-y basil, topped off with a sprinkling of toasty pine nuts. It's kind of a cross between guacamole and pesto, and with the yogurt replacing the sour cream/mayo usually found in dips, it is actually quite good for you (hurray!) And if this weren't good enough, it is beyond easy to make -- one of those recipes perfect for the "I don't cook" crowd -- just a matter of putting everything into a food processor and pressing the "On" button. And there's more -- this dip requires no cooking, making it perfect for summer.

A couple of notes: Though this dip contains avocado, I found it does not turn dark green (like guacamole does) after half an hour or so of being out -- the lemon juice preserves the nice light green color.  Besides carrots, this is great served with celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, or quickly cooked string beans and asparagus. Finally, while most of you will enjoy this dip as a snack or light appetizer, I predict that by August I will be eating it as a meal accompanied by raw veggies, because as I've learned, anything above room temperature requiring even minimal heat is asking a lot during a Roman summer. If the weather is unbearable where you are, remember that dip for dinner is perfectly acceptable. Enjoy everyone!

AVOCADO BASIL DIP

Ingredients:
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed
1 cup (8 ounces) plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup basil leaves, packed
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil 
A good pinch of salt
A few grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Crackers, pita chips, or veggies for serving

Directions:
Put all ingredients (except the pine nuts) in the bowl of a food processor. 

Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper, or more lemon juice or basil if you want. Blend again. 

Place the dip in a serving bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with raw veggies, crackers, or pita chips. Serves 4 (or 2, if you're me and my sister).




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