PHOTO: Lori Rice
It’s the holiday season, which means your diet the next several weeks will be a smorgasbord of cookies, appetizers and dips—but the dip you bring to the table doesn’t have to be made out of unpalatable fake cheese. Instead, turn to your farm to inspire a healthier alternative. If you’ve got goats and black walnut trees, this comforting appetizer can be sourced 100-percent from your backyard—but don’t worry if you don’t. You can also turn to your neighboring farmers for these ingredients, as well.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 15 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 1 3/4 cup)
- 4 ounces softened goat cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped black walnuts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 large egg
- additional dried basil and oregano for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a three- to four-cup casserole dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta and goat cheese until smooth. Add the onion, garlic and 1/4 cup of the black walnuts. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Fold in the salt, black pepper, basil and oregano. Add the egg, and stir until it’s blended into the cheeses.
Transfer the dip to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining two tablespoons of black walnuts. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes; baking time will vary by the size and shape of your baking dish. (The ramekins used here baked for 24 minutes.) The dip will start to bubble as the top begins to brown. It’s ready when the dip begins to firm up around the edges but is still somewhat soft in the middle.
Remove from the oven. Let sit 10 minutes before serving, and sprinkle additional dried basil and oregano on top to taste. The dip is best with tortilla chips, but it is also good with pita chips or vegetable sticks, and it can be used as a spread on crackers.