Wednesday, March 20, 2013

From Mr. MacGregor's Easter Garden...

  Mr. McGregor's black bean dip with miniature vegetables

I love to make something fun and engaging for holiday gatherings, s this year I went wild with miniature vegetables and a spicy black bean dip to replicate a potted miniature garden. It is easy to make (see recipe below) using canned black beans, spices which you can customize for your own tastes, and then miniature vegetables and herbs that I found at Trader Joe's.

A rustic cement pot is perfect for serving and creating the allure of a mini garden:

 I lined the inside with a plastic storage container which fits right into the pot.  If the pot sinks too much, add a few stones to raise the plastic container up to the top rim of the plant pot.

I purchased an array of fresh vegetables at the market:

  I made holes in the end of baby carrots to insert herbs like parsley, cilantro and marjoram. Trader Joe's has an array of miniature vegetables including zucchini, carrots and English peas. I washed and cleaned all the vegetables and added fresh herbal greens in places where the natural greens were less than lively (like radishes). I gathered all the items in a large dish to have them all handy for arranging.

 Brussel sprouts are gently opened to create the look of tiny cabbages:

Cherry tomatoes are pierced and fitted with a fresh sprig of oregano.  For
carrots, I used both marjoram and parsley leaves.
Carrots and other vegetables can be placed in additional serving pieces to place around the finished garden.  Bread sticks, crackers and
tortilla chips would also make great accompaniments.

To make the dip, I used chopped black olives as a textural topper:

   I pureed black beans and added a mix of spices to make a smooth paste. I lined the plant pot with the plastic storage container and filled it with the dip. Use an offset spatula to smooth and even the top (dirt) layer:

Then I went about planting the pot and placing the carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, etc. This is easy to do, as the dip is thick and holds the vegetables in place. 

I added the green herb stems to the carrots after
placement. I then add chopped olives to add a textural top soil to the very last layer of the dip:

Add in whatever vegetables you choose and marvel at this enchanting
mini garden you have created... Children and adults will both be

I place the finished piece atop a rustic saucer and added breadsticks:

For a further display I used a vintage rabbit planter for additional carrots and vegetables.
I made additional mini gardens (above, right) in my jelly jars (which you can find on Etsy):


Whether celebrating Easter or Spring, or simply having people over for book
club or drinks, this fanciful crudite will be the hit of your own party
or any gathering you attend.

 Mr. McGregor's black bean dip with miniature vegetables

 3 15-oz can black beans, drained, rinsed
6 tbsp. water
3 tsp. distilled vinegar
3 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. honey
3 clove garlic
2 tbsp. jalapeno, roughly chopped
1  tsp. chipotle powder
2  tsp. dried cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Store in the fridge in an air-tight container.


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  1. Oh My Gosh-This is BRILLIANT and would be perfect for a Spring luncheon. The "dirt" is awesome:)

    Blessings, Carol

  2. Matthew, this is a darling idea. I used to make dirt cakes with my 1st grade students when I was teaching. But this takes the idea to a whole new level. I'm going to use this idea for a spring party. Thank you!

  3. I LOVE this idea Matthew! Totally doing this for Easter.


    Bout says it all!

    Victoria Silva


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