• Ciao Gusto Christmas Dips

Christmas Dips with Ciao Gusto

This is a post sponsored by Ciao Gusto. I was commissioned by them to write the following delicious recipes using their fantastic Ponti products.

Christmas is just around the corner and even if you aren’t planning a large scale dinner party, having a few spectacular recipes for nibbles up your sleeve will help take the edge off the stress of entertaining. Hungry Hubby and I love a dinner of nothing but a collection of nibbles for just the two of us so no matter how many loved ones you’re sharing your festive feast with, I am sure you will love the three recipes I am bringing you today, in conjunction with Ciao Gusto, Italian food retailer who sell through Ocado here in the UK.

Christmas dips with Ciao Gusto

I can’t imagine a gathering of my family without pots of dips and piles of crisps, crudités, toasted pittas, garlic bread and all that jazz on the table. There is nothing better than dipping freshly baked focaccia or ciabatta into a puddle of thick, green extra virgin olive oil with a slick of balsamic vinegar on top of it and Ciao Gusto have some really excellent oils and vinegars to do just that with.

A selection of Ponti vinegars and balsamic glaze with a large bush of fresh basil.

But you can’t feed people with oil and vinegar alone, no matter how divinely tasty that is! Ponti, one of the brands available in the Ocado Ciao Gusto shop have tons of great antipasto style products but it was their Zero Oil range which caught my eye and inspired today’s recipes.  The jarred mushrooms, peppers and sundried tomatoes were my picks as they are packed with a little vinegar and a lot of seasoning that make them so flavourful without being greasy at all.

Ponti Zero Oil products - mushrooms, peppers and sundried tomatoes

My first recipe is for Roasted Pepper and Mascarpone Dip. Somehow, it is both creamy thanks to a meagre amount of mascarpone but also fresh and juicy thanks to the red and yellow peppers. The little vinegary tang the peppers impart together with a sprinkling of red chilli flakes makes for a really delicious little dip. It is also a breeze to whip up so with a little notice, you can have a pot of this in the fridge for last minute guests with minimal stress.

5 from 1 vote
Roasted pepper and mascarpone dip
Roasted Pepper & Mascarpone Dip

Somehow fresh and creamy, this dip is wonderful with crudité, grissini or your favourite posh crisps! Makes about 300ml. 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
: 312 kcal
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 1 jar Ponti Zero Oil Grilled Peppers (drained weight of roasted peppers = 170g)
  • 1 clove caramelised garlic* (about 3/4 of a tsp if using a premade paste)
  • 2 tbsp parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to personal taste)
  • 60 g mascarpone
Instructions
  1. Drain the peppers well and add to the food processor with the garlic, parmesan and red chilli flakes. Blitz until a very smooth purée is achieved. 

  2. Add the mascarpone and now just pulse it in until it is combined and stop.  Don't leave the motor running or it will be too sloppy. 

  3. Taste for seasoning and add sea salt or black pepper to taste - remember that cold food needs more seasoning to bring the flavour out so be a bit braver than usual. 

  4. Scrape into a pot and cover with cling film. Chill for a couple of hours before serving. Use within 48 hours. 

Recipe Notes

* = to make caramelised garlic, you can simply cut the top off a bulb, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil then cook for an hour at 180˚C. I tend to do this when something else is in the oven. If you have an Instant Pot, prepare the garlic as above but place it in a ramekin or other small ovenproof dish. Sit it on the trivet and add 250ml water to the IP. Cook on Manual High for 10 minutes then NPR. Flash under a hot grill for a few moments to brown. 

 

Mushroom Paté

Next up, is my Mushroom Paté. Made with the Ponti marinaded mushrooms, this is just so tasty only the richness will stop you from polishing the lot off in one go. Flavoured with caramelised garlic, butter and Marsala wine, this is a divine vegetarian paté. And as long as you don’t break the butter seal on top, it should keep for a week in the fridge meaning you can get this done well in advance of your Christmas festivities.

5 from 1 vote
Mushroom Paté
Mushroom Paté

Very easy to make, this mushroom paté is very rich and perfect to spread onto crisp toasts, crackers or use in beef wellingtons even! Makes about 250ml. 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
: 331 kcal
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 1 jar Ponti Zero Oil Grilled Mushrooms (drained weight = 170g)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 spring onions, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves caramelised garlic*
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp Marsala wine
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp creme fraîche
To finish:
  • 2 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Drain the mushrooms well then add them to a food processor. 

  2. Heat the tsp of butter in a small pan and cook the spring onions until soft. Add the garlic and dried herbs and cook for a further minute before adding in the Marsala wine. Cook until reduced and only a small amount of glossy liquid remains. 

  3. Scrape the contents of the pan into the food processor including all of the juices from the butter and wine. Add the nutmeg and creme fraîche then process until smooth. 

  4. You can add up to 1 tbsp of boiling water to help this mix if you prefer a very smooth paste. Taste and add seasoning remembering that once chilled, the flavours are blunted so be a bit braver than usual. 

  5. Scrape into a small dish and melt the 2 tbsp of butter, pouring over the paté to seal it. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving but will keep for 1 week if you wrap in cling film once the butter has set. 

Recipe Notes

* = to make caramelised garlic, you can simply cut the top off a bulb, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil then cook for an hour at 180˚C. I tend to do this when something else is in the oven. If you have an Instant Pot, prepare the garlic as above but place it in a ramekin or other small ovenproof dish. Sit it on the trivet and add 250ml water to the IP. Cook on Manual High for 10 minutes then NPR. Flash under a hot grill for a few moments to brown. 

Pesto trapanese spaghetti

My third and final recipe today is for Pesto Trapanese. Pesto just means paste and actually, it can be so much more than just the basil, pine nut and parmesan variety, even though that is hard to beat. This version originally comes from Trapani in Sicily and they use almonds, pecorino and tomatoes in their pesto. Traditionally, it is served stirred through freshly cooked spaghetti but I have to admit, my best friend in the world Moo introduced me to hummus topped with pesto and I swear, it sounds mad but it tastes sublime! Especially with the Trapanese variety as the tomatoes bring a little brightness in flavour to the mix.

5 from 1 vote
Pesto Trapanese
Pesto Trapanese

Pesto Trapanese is a lovely variation on basil pesto using almonds and in this case, sundried tomatoes. It's wonderful stirred through freshly cooked spaghetti but I love to dip focaccia into it or even add a dollop on top of hummus! Try it before you knock it 😉 
Makes about 300ml.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
: 1403 kcal
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 30 g whole blanched almonds
  • 1 clove caramelised garlic*
  • 30 g fresh basil leaves
  • 30 g pecorino cheese
  • 8 Ponti Zero Oil Sundried Tomatoes
  • 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Start by toasting the almonds in a dry frying pan until browned. Allow to cool then tip into a food processor.

  2. Add everything else down to the sundried tomatoes. Blitz until a reasonably fine paste is achieved. You may need to scrape down a few times.

  3. With the motor running, pour the oil into the pesto until you reach your desired texture. You may not wish to add it all if you like your pesto very thick or you can even add a little more if you like it more fluid. 

  4. Scrape into a bowl and chill for at least two hours before using. I like to flatten the top on any leftovers and cover with more extra virgin olive oil before storing in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can also freeze pesto for cooking with in future in ice cube trays. 

Recipe Notes

* = to make caramelised garlic, you can simply cut the top off a bulb, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil then cook for an hour at 180˚C. I tend to do this when something else is in the oven. If you have an Instant Pot, prepare the garlic as above but place it in a ramekin or other small ovenproof dish. Sit it on the trivet and add 250ml water to the IP. Cook on Manual High for 10 minutes then NPR. Flash under a hot grill for a few moments to brown. 

With thanks to Ciao Gusto for the great selection of products that I really enjoyed experimenting with to bring you these three festive recipes.

Tomatoes, bocconcini and Ponti balsamic glaze

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn a little commission if you chose to buy items I’ve advertised, helping me to bring you all these recipes for free!

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2 Comments

  1. Sue Nicholson 18th December 2017 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    That mushroom paté would be gorgeous stirred through pasta…

    Unfortunately Ocado don’t deliver in my area and I haven’t seen this brand elsewhere.

    • Just Jo 19th December 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

      That’s a good idea Sue. I quite like it smeared on hot garlic bread, I’m such a chav lol 😉

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