Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nigella's Basil and Goat's Cheese Dip and Rouge Limonade for Happy Hour

Uh oh, two weeks in a row that I haven't found enough to love for my normal Tuesday "Things I Am Loving This Week" post. I think I have had my head down and have been using up the things I have rather than finding new ones. I'll work on bringing back that lovin' feeling for next week. ;-) Instead today we have my pick for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs "Happy Hour" theme. Perusing my Nigella books the criteria was fast, easy, delicious, healthy--in that order, (what can I say, I am feeling lazy lately!) The two recipes I picked, Basil and Goat's Cheese Dip from Feast, (page 438) and Rouge Limonade from Nigella Express, (page 318) seemed to fit the criteria pretty well. Both are simple, go together quickly with just a few ingredients, pair well as an easy party treat, and taste great.

About the Basil and Goats Cheese Dip, Nigella says: "I know it's not all in the correct register but I love this smeared thickly over split, toasted and slightly cooled bagels. You can use feta in place of the soft, sour and salty goat's cheese here to balance the smoky sweetness of the nuts and mellow scent of the basil if that's easier to find or you just want something a little more pungent and less creamy."

Basil and Goat's Cheese Dip
"Feast" by Nigella Lawson

1 cup walnut pieces
2 scallions, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
1 packed cup soft goat's cheese
3 Tbsp garlic-infused oil

Process the walnut pieces, scallions, and basil leaves, then add the goats cheese and oil and process again to make a grainy paste. Transfer to a bowl and top with a basil leaf or two if it pleases you.

Notes/Results: Excellent! This 5-ingredient dip is full of good flavor and was perfect smeared on some multi-grain baguette and my favorite sesame rice crackers. I have been avoiding most dairy lately and was really craving cheese, plus I had some herbed goat cheese I didn't want to waste so a half-batch of the dip was the perfect way to use it up. I think toasting the walnuts first is a great way to pump up the flavor and because the goat cheese is salty, I found that I didn't need to add salt, just some black pepper--because most things are enhanced by a bit of black pepper. With the healthy fat from the olive oil, and the fiber, B-vitamins and antioxidants of the walnuts, the dip is pretty good for you too. I will make this again.

For the cocktail, I wanted something simple that would stand up to the flavors in the dip and found the recipe for the Rouge Limonade which is simply red wine topped off with lemonade. It will probably make wine purists gasp in dismay ;-) but I thought it would be fun to try, and since I had red wine as well as some lemons and agave to make lemonade, I was able to throw it together quickly.

Nigella says: "Finally the Rouge Limonade, a drink that is considered not quite 'comme il faut' (BTW: I looked it up and this means not proper or in accordance with accepted standards or conventions), in Paris, but much loved in the country. It is really just a spritzer made with red wine, only in place of club soda you use lemonade. Obviously, don't use good red wine--and this is why this can be a major help at a party. I don't say serve the sort of wine that could double as paint stripper, but something pretty rough could have its edges knocked off with a good top-up of lemonade. It's not chic, but it's thirst quenching--and wonderfully, seasonally, hued."

Rouge Limonade or Red Lemonade
"Nigella Express" by Nigella Lawson

3 parts chilled red wine
1-2 parts chilled lemonade

Pour the red wine into a glass or tumbler. Top with the lemonade according to taste (and quality of wine), much like you would a white wine spritzer. (One 750ml bottle of wine should yield 5-6 glasses).

Notes/Results: Surprisingly tasty--I liked it better than I thought I might. It made the red wine bright and lighter and was pleasing with the dip. I used 3 parts red wine to 1 part homemade lemonade for my proportions. As Nigella mentions, I wouldn't make this drink with a special or expensive wine, but I had a random bottle of Kendall-Jackson Syrah that came in a holiday gift basket and it worked well. It won't be my new signature cocktail but was quite drinkable and would be a good party beverage. Sparkling lemonade would be fun to try too.

I am very happy with both choices this week--go Nigella! You can see how our other IHCC participants celebrated their "Happy Hours" by going to the post (here) and following the links.



  1. the dip sounds delicious, I hope to try it soon!

  2. You can't go wrong with fast, easy, healthy and delicious!
    Great spread and what a fascinating drink. Sort of in the sangria frame of mind.
    Great choices!

  3. That dip looks kind of like guacamole - it's so green and creamy! I will definitely be making it. A great spread for all of this bread...

  4. I had a lot of red wine and lemonade in Spain - they call it tinto de verano there and I thought it was the most perfect beverage for a hot day! And your dip looks delicious.

  5. Since I love all things goat cheese, that dip is going on my list!

  6. Oh my god, I love the bouncy retro-ness of the photos! I'm flashing back to my parent's parties with my mom's famous "vodka punch for the ladies." Fun!

  7. The basil goat cheese spread sounds so refreshing with the fresh herbs. I'll have to try it!

  8. I'm glad that you enjoyed the goat cheese dip! I love the tanginess that goat cheese has and I bet this was delicious served on crackers. The rouge limonade sounds interesting. I'd love to try it. I don't have the slightest idea of what to pick for this week.

  9. How do I love these? So very, very much! The goat cheese dip would be gone before I spread it on my first slice of baguette. As for the Rouge Limonade, let the wine purists sniff - I can't think of a better way to perk up an inexpensive bottle of red than sparkly lemonade. That's what I call happy!

  10. I have to agree, that dip sounds perfect! Your photography is so incredible. I'm a klutz with even my point and shoot, but I can appreciate a good picture.

  11. Deb, your dip and drink both look and sound delicious, especially the goat cheese basil dip. I'm adding goat cheese to my shopping list right now :) I was going to jump into I Heart Cooking Clubs (finally!) this week but am not sure what to do for Happy Hour...hmmm. Might have to wait until next week with the budget dishes.

  12. This is a happy hour that I would love to attend! Everything looks delicious, Deb!

  13. Hey Deb, I bet the walnuts and goat cheese dip was amazing. The flavors sound like they really complimented each other. AND, I'm ready for the Rouge Limonade. Red Wine and Lemonade...sounds enticing.

  14. The dip sounds great. Did you use a dry or sweet wine?

  15. This dip looks really fantastic...
    The wine is jus like we (read i)make it thanx to my dad....
    we used to have vermount or martini with equal parts water ,loads of ice & lemon and sugar and a few add ons and we never miss our pepsi and coke with this one...infact jus a few days back i was thinking i should be posting this one and here ur to inspire me and am glad for that nigella recipe here....

  16. The dip sounds so delicious! And so easy. Love everything about it. The red wine and lemonade sounds like a strange combo - but what a great way to jazz it up.

  17. This dip sounds wonderful. I can't quite wrap my mind around red wine and lemonade!

  18. We got in the habit of drinking red wine spritzers when we were in Spain a few years ago. Not so sure about the lemonade, but maybe on a really really hot day.... The dip looks great.

  19. I am going to be so sad when Nigella isn't the theme at IHCC...you all have so many wonderful photos from the recipes. We make some of the same recipes but everyone has their own personal touch to the results.

    Love the goat cheese...on anything at all!

  20. loneilteaches--I used a syrah--I would say it was more dry and kind of jammy with berry notes. I think either would work as long as it isn't too much either way (sweet or dry).

  21. WOW! This looks delish. Such a simple dip recipe. I must give it a whirl!

  22. I love goat cheese! Always happy to find a new way to use it!


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