Everyone has at least one recipe in their arsenal that is their secret weapon when it comes to entertaining. Our friend Caeli-Rose White from @happierinthekitchen shares one of her mom’s “secret weapon” recipes that has been handed down to her and how, with a few tweaks, you can make it into something spectacular for any occasion!

This Balsamic Tomato Dip recipe has been in my family’s rotation of favorite dips for as long as I can remember, and in my mom’s collection of “secret weapon” recipes since before I was born. You know the type – that dish you can bring to any occasion, under any circumstances, and it somehow fits in perfectly. Coincidentally, when I think of this dip, it’s not bound to hot nor cold weather. Be it poolside in the middle of summer, with soggy tortilla chips in hand, or cozied up in front of the fire in the winter, it somehow seamlessly fits into every scenario. So, take note – I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed!

I love this recipe because, quite simply, it’s so versatile. Not only in the season and atmosphere it can be served, but also how it’s presented. When making this dish, I’d first like you to ask yourself where is it best fits in your menu? Are you in need of a starter for guests to munch on while the mains are being prepared? Or are you looking to level up the flavor of your protein – like chicken or tilapia filets – with this as a side? What about if you have a friend coming over who eats a vegan diet, but most of what you were planning to serve is meat based? Enter the Balsamic Tomato Dip – also known as “the secret weapon.”

If you are only looking to serve an appetizer for guests, it can simply remain in dip form, presented in a large bowl with tortilla chips on the side. If you are looking to jazz up a fish fillet, burger, or steak, consider serving it on top of the dish for your guests, or placing it on the table as a condiment and allowing your guests to use as much or as little as they choose as they assemble their plates. The ingredients will add variety of fresh textures and the flavor combination of the balsamic vinegar, lime juice, and cilantro will take your tastebuds on an exciting roller coaster ride that no burger or fish fillet could do solo!

When it comes to your vegan or vegetarian guests, this dip is plant-based and relatively nutritionally complete on its own so it could pass as a main without any doctoring. However, if you have someone who will be eating this as their main meal, feel free to “beef” it up (sorry vegans!) by adding some more substance. Perhaps that looks like a protein boost from some cubed tofu, or some more variety in texture by adding spinach or croutons. Vegan friends aside, this would also be delicious with some shredded chicken tossed in.

If you need to alter this dish because of an allergy, aversion, or dietary restriction – it’s perfectly ok. Having been a foodie for several years now, I can confirm that there are multiple ways to take a recipe and put your own spin on it. That is what makes it special and unique to you. How you choose to adapt this recipe is really based on what you like and how you will be serving it.

I would like to point out the star ingredient: Pure Flavor® Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes. These small bursts of candy-like sweetness are the natural boost your family needs throughout the day. Great as a snack, they offer a pop of juicy flavor that can’t be beat! They are also perfect for this and other recipes.

If you are following my recipe to a tee, you’ll notice how the ingredients play off each other just right, providing a variety of textures and flavors. The black beans, chickpeas, corn, and tomatoes act as the base and are the primary substance of the dip. I make sure to drain and rinse my beans & chickpeas well so there’s no unwanted liquid in the bowl. As an added tip, if you use frozen white corn kernels, keep them frozen! By the time you add everything to the bowl and serve it, they’ll be fully thawed and will keep the other ingredients chilled in the meantime – it’s a win-win!

The red onion, cilantro, and avocado are what I like to think of as the surprise elements that really pack the flavor and texture in the dip without being too in-your-face. I recommend cubing and adding the avocado right before serving to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown or mushy. The hidden game changers would be the fresh (yes, I said fresh!) lime juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. These ingredients really bring the whole dip together. They will have your guests continuously coming back for more and asking what is that, and why is it so good? Please remember to taste as you go and adjust the flavors to your liking. Don’t be afraid to double the lime juice or omit the corn. This is now your “secret recipe” too!

When I think of this Balsamic Tomato Dip, I think versatile, flavorful, and best served with good company. My hope is that this recipe falls into your rotation of secret weapons too. Enjoy!

For Caeli-Rose’s full Balsamic Tomato Dip recipe, click here.

For more healthy snacking advice and tasty recipes, make sure to sign up for Pure Flavor®’s monthly newsletter.