For the past few days, my meals have been heavily reliant on Mimi’s artichoke dip.
Take a can of (unmarinated) artichoke hearts and drain those puppies. (Oh sorry. Not puppies. I forgot this was addressed to vegans.) Add 8-10 oz of drained soft tofu, two tablespoons lemon juice, one tablespoon olive oil, some chopped fresh basil, a garlic clove, and some salt. WHIRL! PULSE! PROCESS! EAT WITH CRACKERS! It makes a lot. Be warned.
It is embarrassingly easy to make, tangy and refreshing on a hot day, and most of the ingredients can be kept on hand. In my case, all of the ingredients are on hand, since I tend to go basil-mad at the farmer’s market, buying absurdly large, absurdly cheap bunches even if I have a bunch at home. Accordingly, I have small tubs of basil, chopped and packed in olive oil, tucked away in my freezer, and can make artichoke dip anytime I please. (Gloating.)
Mimi suggests serving it with crackers; I prefer homemade pita chips. It makes an excellent sandwich filling. On a slice of toasted sourdough bread, topped with lightly salted tomatoes, it is perhaps my favorite summer sandwich. If you can stand the delight, try it mixed with chopped tomatoes and served with garlic cassava chips. If you possibly can, resist eating so much you get sick.
I have now served this to several of the least-vegan (if you get my concept, and I think we can agree that you do) people I know, with great success. My red-meat-eating Mom looked meaningfully at me over her chip, saying, “I would really love to know how you make this.” It could hardly be easier. I have some suggestions to add to the recipe linked above:
a) I add some freshly ground pepper, a dash of hot sauce, and plenty of lemon zest.
b) Chopping the artichokes before dropping into the food processor eliminates the occasional whiskerlike artichoke hairs that can be so disconcerting to the diner.
c. If I have time, I like to drain the tofu well to make a thicker dip that’s less prone to separate in the fridge. I put the tofu into a salad spinner (a colander in a bowl works fine but is less stable), put a flat-bottomed plate or dish on top, and place a heavy can on top of that. Refrigerate a few hours or overnight, occasionally draining the liquid collecting in the bottom.