Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Due to some very unwelcome and malicious spyware and viruses which apparently have been residing on my computer, I unfortunately have been unable to post anything for the past two days.  This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about you and the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving holiday, so while my computer was down, I refocused my energy in the kitchen.  Now that I think about it, the computer repair guy probably found it a bit odd that I kept taking pictures of my food….  Today I will bring you three, count ’em, three recipe ideas so that I can make up for lost time.  So, without, further ado, let’s get cooking!

Recipe_pictures_022 Anyone who knows me relatively well knows that there are certain foods that I do not like to eat, cook with, or in some extreme cases, be within 50 feet of.  Two of these foods are cream cheese and mayonnaise (the latter of the two has the distinct honor of falling into the “extreme” category).  Yes, I’m afraid this means no cheesecake recipes for Peanut Butter and Julie, but don’t worry, I have more than enough fantastic desserts in my repertoire to make up for any cheesecake withdrawal.

Sadly, due to my dislike of the aforementioned ingredients, I have never been able to enjoy the ubiquitous American appetizer, Spinach and Artichoke Dip-UNTIL NOW!  The following recipe omits the usual cream cheese and mayo (and at the same time significantly cuts fat and calories!), but still produces a rich and creamy product.  In fact, it is hard to believe that there is not half and half or cream in the recipe at all!  This would be perfect to serve as an appetizer during the day for the football-watching crowd, along with the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (today’s second recipe).  A few comments:

  • The recipe calls for mozzarella, but you can also try Fontina, another mild cheese that melts easily, as a substitution.
  • If you like to add a little heat to your recipes, add a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • An alternative serving suggestion for this dish, pictured below, would be to  make individual spinach and artichoke gratins as an innovative side dish.  Just divide the filling into 6 oven-proof ramekins set on a baking sheet, and divide the cheese on top.  Broil as directed and serve hot.
  • Fresh thyme, fragrant and wonderful as it may be, is one of the more time consuming herbs to work with.  It is quite labor intensive to remove the little thyme leaves from the stems.  I would definitely recommend using dried thyme if you don’t want to put in the extra time and effort.  I promise you, the recipe will still be delicious.  Tip: The rule of thumb for dried herbs vs. fresh is to use a 1:3 ratio.  In other words, for every 1 teaspoon of dried herbs, use 3 teaspoons of fresh.  In this recipe, you would use 2 teaspoons of dried thyme.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:Recipe_pictures_014

Two 10-ounce boxes chopped frozen spinach

2 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

Half of a small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

One 13.75 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese

1 loaf whole grain baguette, cut into bite-size cubes (optional)

In microwaveable bowl, defrost the spinach in the microwave for 6 to 8 minutes.  Drain the spinach in a kitchen towel or colander and wring dry.  Tear the spinach into small pieces and set aside.  In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the thyme and lemon peel.  Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute.  Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg.  Increase the heat to high and cook, whisking often, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the spinach, artichokes, and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella.  (Recipe can be made 1 day ahead up to this point.  Keep covered in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature prior to continuing.)  Transfer the mixture to a casserole.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Preheat the broiler.  Broil the dip until bubbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Serve with pita chips, bread cubes, or crudites.

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