Dips are rarely skinny, so chances are you’ve sworn off the high-calorie party food.
But you don’t have to banish dips altogether. Sure, typical dairy-based dips tend to be high in saturated fat, but choosing lower-fat dairy products can let the good times roll.
The Star’s festive Tomato Basil Cheese Spread starts with a base of low-fat ricotta cheese. Smoother than cottage cheese, ricotta is made by “recooking” the whey, which is the watery liquid that separates from the curds in cheese-making.
Traditionally used to make lasagna, ravioli or manicotti, ricotta has been slimming down in recent years.
A 1-ounce serving of fat-free ricotta has 27 calories, 5 grams of protein, 1 gram carbohydrates and 27 milligrams of sodium, according to drgourmet.com, a Web site featuring Timothy Harlan, an internist and chef.
Readily available in the dairy case of supermarkets, ricotta is also one of the richest sources of dietary calcium. It also is high in protein, phosphorous and selenium.
When combined with goat cheese, the mild-tasting ricotta takes on a delicious tang.
Doubling up again, the cheeses are garnished with two types of tomato. Fresh tomatoes provide lycopene, an antioxidant that may prevent prostate cancer, heart disease and skin ailments, but intensely flavored bits of sun-dried tomato concentrate the benefits of lycopene. What’s more, lycopene is more available to the body when served in combination with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Fresh basil and toasted pine nuts add interest and a fresh Italian flavor, so go ahead and dig in. Just be sure not to double dip.