This doesn't happen too often but every once in awhile we have "surprise" guests pop in. And it almost always stresses me out because we typically don't keep a lot of groceries on hand. We've adopted a more European approach and go to our local grocery store almost every day not because we are trying to be "fancy" but because ever since we moved to Toronto we have been limited in space in one way or another. In our condo we had no cupboard space so other than a few cans of soup and cereal we didn't really store anything. Now, our fridge and freezer is so tiny despite having a really great, full sized kitchen (but that is a whole other story).
Keep a few ingredients on hand and you can almost always whip up something tasty in a pinch. An avocado and you can easily make guacamole. Garbanzo beans/chick peas and tahini and you can make some amazing fresh hummus. Once you've got the basics down you can make so many fantastic flavour combinations. Since I'm on a huge beet kick and I keep cans of various beans on hand I was able to make beet and white bean hummus last time we had guests pop in unexpectedly. Man, it was delicious.
The hardest part of making this dip is not getting your fingers stained by the beets. Seriously! It doesn't get much easier. Roast beets and add all ingredients to the blender and you are pretty much done. And, a tip for you, when you remove the beets from the oven let them cool for just a few minutes and then put sandwich or ziplock bags over your hands and peel the skins off. Voila, no red stains. I can't remember where I heard about this tip but I used it for the first time recently and it worked like a charm.
So stock up on a few key ingredients and you'll have so many options that you can serve with crudites, crostinis and almost any other dippable items you can think of including fingers and spoons...just kidding. If you like balsamic vinegar like I do you can add a bit of balsamic vinegar drizzle. Check out this recipe for balsamic syrup from The Splendid Table. Just a tab will kick this beet and white bean hummus up a notch. Delicious.