When invited to someone's home, I hate showing up empty-handed. So when B's new boss hosted a going-away party for another staff member, I chose to forgo B's suggestion of a bottle of wine and made a grilled pineapple salsa (recipe courtesy of my friend L) and a black bean dip. We arrived, bowls and bag of Tostitos in hand - and found out it was a catered affair. Luckily, his boss was incredibly gracious and the dips were a hit. I even got a nice compliment from a restauranteur! Plus the white bowls (borrowed from N of A Fine Balance) weren't too conspicuous and matched the caterer's dishware.
To make grilled pineapple salsa:
Cut pineapple into rings about 1" thick, and grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side. You should see grill marks on the pineapple. While pineapple is cooking, finely dice 1/2 red onion and 1 seeded jalapeno (see note below). Roughly chop 1/4 cup cilantro and grind 1T cumin seeds. Combine onion, jalapeno cilantro and cumin in a bowl and add juice of 2 limes. When pineapple is done, cut into small pieces and add to bowl. Season generously with salt.
Note: My friend uses a scotch bonnet pepper instead of a jalapeno, which gives the salsa really nice heat. But when cooking for people you don't know well, I'd err on the side of less spicy.
To make black bean dip:
In a blender, combine 2 cans drained and rinsed black beans, 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped, 2T garlic, 2T lemon juice, 2T balsamic vinegar, 2T olive oil, 2T water and a small handful of cilantro. Blend then add salt to taste. If necessary, modify quantities of above ingredients to suit your taste.
Variation: Add chopped red pepper.
Serve separately or together with corn chips. Leftover pineapple salsa would also go nicely with chicken or fish. Leftover black bean dip would make a nice addition to my loaded chicken nachos recipe.