It’s the middle of summer and most are settling into a more relaxed schedule . The heavy drapes on the windows have been long since been tossed open and the heavy foods of past seasons, discarded. We are circling our lawn chairs around the barbecue and bellying up to the bar. Appetizer and snack bar that is.

Summer veggies are in all of the farmers markets. Pick some up as the Europeans do; just for now, just this meal. Go beyond blanched broccoli and carrot and celery sticks. Try tender, whole baby peas in the pod, sliced jicama and diakon, blanched cauliflower or baby romaine hearts as scoops. Arrange them on individual plates for easy nibbling as a prelude to your grilled meal. Texture and vitality await. Here are two options for low-fat dips that provide enough punch to get your family or guests through to the entree.

Mom’s cottage cheese dip

  • 1 small container cottage cheese ( large curd lower-fat)
  • 3 Tablespoons cut chives or any fresh herb that marries well with garlic
  • one fresh, large minced clove garlic
  • dash of Tabasco ( optional)

Put all in blender, whirl until smooth and serve in small dip bowl with crudites or chips.

Piquillo pepper dip

  • 1- 10 ounce jar Piquillo peppers, well drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • sea salt to taste

Put all in blender, whirl until smooth and serve in small dip bowl.