CEiMB: Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip
This week I strayed from the pack a little: while the other CEiMBers were making the Chicken Chop Suey that The Healthy Hostess chose, I made Ellie’s Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip that was chosen back in February, before I joined the group. I think the Chicken Chop Suey sounds really good, and I can’t wait to read everyone’s posts. Unfortunately, Ryan just didn’t share my thoughts on the recipe. There are a lot of vegetables in chop suey, and I didn’t want to be left with a ton of leftovers that only I would eat. I do hope you’ll check out Ali’s blog because on top of having great taste in dishes (great minds think alike!), she runs a wonderful blog with lots of great, healthy ideas for your next dinner party. Would you expect anything less from The Healthy Hostess? :)
I have lived in the same area of Northwest Atlanta since I was in the fourth grade. When my family first moved here from the suburbs of Chicago, I felt like we lived way out in the country. There was a large discount store, a couple gas stations, and one grocery store off of our exit. A couple exits away was the mall which was surrounded by maybe four restaurants. Now that is all multiplied by ten. At least. Quite the metropolis we have now, but back when the area was still a little town, the one restaurant my family would always go to for special occasions was Olive Garden. In fact, I had my first date at Olive Garden, and when my mom and I went out to Montana for my great-grandmother’s funeral, our extended family took us to Olive Garden. So, as you can see, Olive Garden and I go way back. Many memorable moments have occurred at Olive Garden. Well, at least those two moments anyway.
Their food isn’t exactly haute cuisine or anything, but it is good. In fact, there is one dish they have there that I simply cannot get enough, and that is their spinach and artichoke dip. I crave it. In fact, it is the dip by which all others are measured in my mind. It is that good. Please, don’t tell me how unhealthy it is because I like to pretend it is good for me, you know, with all those veggies that are in it. I am embarrassed to admit this, but, Ryan and I always order the spinach and artichoke dip as an appetizer, he barely eats any, yet the container always looks licked clean.
When I set out to make this healthier, Ellie version of spinach and artichoke dip, I had low expectations. I mean, how could a lightened version taste anything like what I’m used to? I read good reviews from other CEiMBers and the online reviewers at Food Network, but I was still not convinced. All I can say is, that skepticism was misplaced. I should have trusted Ellie because she hasn’t let me down yet! This dip was delicious. Could it have been a little cheesier? Of course. I mean, what couldn’t use a little more cheese?? I think next time I will use a bit of sharp cheese like Parmesan in place of some of the mozzarella just to punch up the flavor a bit, but otherwise, I have no complaints. Just like at Olive Garden, I could not control myself and ended up eating a meal-sized portion instead of a snack.
The recipe was really easy and quick to make and could easily be made ahead of time for a party. The worst, and really only bad part of the whole process, was squeezing out the spinach. I just don’t understand how frozen spinach can hold so much water. Any time I deal with it, it feels like a never-ending process. Since I like things a little spicy, I added a bit of crushed red pepper flakes which gave the dip a tiny kick. I served mine on sliced bread, like at Olive Garden, but this would also be great on tortilla or pita chips. I will definitely be making excuses to make this again, and I can promise you that if you are invited to my house for dinner, this will show up.
Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
9 ounces artichoke hearts, defrosted, rinsed and dried
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
2 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are light golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.
In the bowl of a food processor combine artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, mozzarella, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth. Add cooled onion-garlic mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Transfer mixture into an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.
Source: “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” by Ellie Krieger, p. 70