How to make Clodagh McKenna’s party dips

When preparing food for Christmas parties, there are a few things to bear in mind. How are people are going to eat? Sitting or standing? Forks or fingers? Plates or napkins?

Things that have to be assembled or come apart, like overfilled sandwiches, are difficult to manage, whereas the likes of blinis are easy to pick up and a classic when served with smoked salmon and a dollop of sour cream. 

My all time favourite Christmas party snack is devils on horseback. They’re extremely rich, tasty and indulgent, and so easy to do: just soak prunes in brandy overnight, wrap them in a piece of streaky bacon and pop them under the grill until the bacon is crisp. 

Finally, everyone loves dips. They’re fast and simple to prepare, and at their best with seasonal vegetable crudités, crisp breads or breadsticks. Here are three delicious recipes to whizz up that will keep your guests well fed. Here’s to a fun Christmas party! 

Butternut squash & harissa hummus


  • 400g butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp harissa, plus a little extra for drizzling
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. Put the butternut squash chunks and whole garlic cloves in a roasting tin, season well with salt and pepper and add 3.5floz water. Cover the tin with aluminium foil and bake for 45 mins, until the squash is tender. Leave to cool.

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3. Tip the butternut squash and garlic cloves, removed from their skins, into a food processor with any juices from the tin. Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and blend to a paste.

4. Scrape the hummus into a bowl. Drizzle with extra harissa and olive oil before serving.

Tuscan white bean and rosemary dip


  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 70ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper


1. In a food processor, combine cannellini beans, chopped fresh rosemary, crushed garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

2. Season with salt and pepper and purée until smooth, before serving.

Avocado and chilli dip


  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp of crème fraîche 
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Sea salt, freshly ground 
  • black pepper


1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, then blend for a minute or until smooth. Simply scoop into a bowl and you’re good to go.

Follow Clodagh on Instagram @clodagh_mckenna


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