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Easy dip recipes for snacking on spring vegetables

On a recent stroll through the farmers market, a farmer displayed a pod of fresh spring green peas and insisted I pick a pea from it to taste. I cringe when people say things like this, but reader, that pea tasted like candy. It was so sweet and had no hint of chlorophyll bitterness. It woke me up to the fact that spring produce is at its height in the market at this very moment, and all I want to eat for the next couple of weeks is raw peas and carrots and young lettuces and just — you get the idea.

This realization couldn’t have come at a better time, because my friend Lukas Volger just released his latest cookbook, “Snacks for Dinner,” which is brimming with ideas to turn a plate of fresh spring vegetables, among many other snackable foods, into a proper meal. The book boasts dips and spreads, pickles, crackers and even some lightly cooked items to keep on hand for when you need to fill out a mostly “open the packages” snack platter. His asparagus marinated in orange and mustard is one such recipe, stocking you with the springy spears in a tangy vinaigrette. It’s the perfect snack to reach for when the craving hits and you want something green and healthy to go along with your sliced ​​meats and cheese.

But often, my favorite snack platter is a good ol’ refreshing plate of raw crudités bolstered by a dip that anchors all that bright leanness with a hearty punch of flavor and, well, fat. My favorite is the simple bagna cauda, ​​which transforms salty anchovies and a bracing amount of garlic into a silky bath—with plenty of butter and olive oil, mind you—for my raw veggies. And if I want something equally rich but with more body and a little kick, I turn to my fried onion-chili crisp dip, which spikes sour cream with a homemade, Sichuan chili crisp-inspired concoction of fresh garlic, crushed chile flakes and Sichuan peppercorns.

But when I want the dip to involve a little more work and have even more dimensions of flavor, I make this smoky eggplant dip with ginger and tomato chutney. Blistered eggplant is pureed with tahini until silky smooth, then topped with fresh grated ginger, coconut yogurt and a generous dollop of tomato chutney spiced with chaat masala. It’s vegan too, if that helps sell you on the idea even more.

Most of the time I despise raw red bell peppers, but I love them when roasted until smoky, then blended with walnuts and pomegranate molasses, like in this Kurdish heşandin dip. It’s floral, rich and nutty, and the perfect complement to all those candy-sweet veggies I’ll be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and wow, maybe even dessert).

Orange-and-Mustard-Marinated Asparagus

Marinating is wonderful for super-fresh springtime asparagus. You cook it immediately, shock in cold water, then combine with a zesty marinade. Hot, sweet mustard gives the marinade distinction, but you can use Dijon or any other hot or horseradish mustard if that’s what you have on hand.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Bagna Cauda

Anchovies are the essential flavoring for this warm sauce, which is delicious spooned over grilled vegetables or even just grilled bread. Use the highest-quality anchovies you can find to ensure the dip is sweet and rich.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

Fried Onion-Chili Crisp Dip

This dip is a merger of my favorite fried onion dip with spicy Sichuan chili crisp. Garlic, chiles and spices give the dip a wonderfully warm kick. The ground Sichuan peppercorns and MSG are optional, but if you have one or all of them, add them for a more aromatic dip.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 15 minutes.

Fried Onion-Chili Crisp Dip in a round bowl

(Ben Mims/Los Angeles Times)

Smoky Eggplant Dip With Ginger and Tomato Chutney

In this smoky eggplant dip inspired by baba ghanouj, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten grates raw ginger on top to add a fresh, surprising heat. Dollops of a spiced and tangy tomato chutney bring a subtly sweet richness and coconut yogurt lends a cooling creaminess.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Hesandin Dip

Heşandin means “stuffed,” and the dip is similar to muhammara, containing a blend of roasted red peppers pureed with fresh carrots and walnuts, and flavored with notes of garlic, pomegranate molasses and a touch of Aleppo pepper.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 35 minutes.

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