Occassionally, the Irishman will come to me and ask that I try and duplicate a recipe that he loves, but hasn’t been able to find locally. He’ll describe to me the flavors that he likes most about the dish and I’ll start making different incarnations until we find one that’s almost perfect. I’ve successfully made versions of Benihana fried rice and chicken piccata that were to the Irishman’s liking and we can now add this baked spinach and artichoke dip to the list. This is one that you definitely don’t want to miss.
Here’s a list of our ingredients (I forgot to snap a picture in my excitement):
1 box of spinach (10 oz.), thawed and drained
1 small onion, chopped
1 can artichoke hears, drained
1/2 stick of butter
1 block (8 oz.) of neufatel cheese (right next to the regular cream cheese)
1/2 container of reduced fat sour cream (about 8 oz.)
3/4 cup monterrey jack cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
First, preheat your over to 350 degrees. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and melt your butter in a large saute pan.
Add in your onion and cook until softened (about 4-5 minutes or so).
While the onion is cooking, I’m going to shred the cheese (we’re having tacos this week, so I’m going to shred the entire block, but for this recipe, we’re using about 1 cup total).
I’ve also chopped the artichoke hearts…
…left my neufatel cheese out to soften…
…and I’ve put my sour cream and parmesan next to the stove in preparation for the next couple of steps.
(by the way, this Breakstone reduced fat sour cream is the only low-fat one that doesn’t taste grainy to me. We use it for everything.)
(In the event that I buy my parmesan already grated, I prefer the shredded variety to the powdery stuff.)
When your onions are soft and translucent, add in your spinach (make sure you’ve squeezed out all of the excess liquid).
Go ahead and add in the rest of your ingredients (both cheeses, the sour cream and the neufatel cheese).
Mix it well until everything is melted and completely combined. Now, pour it into an oven-safe dish (or multiple ones if you prefer).
At this point, I sprinkle some monterrey jack and parmesan on the top as well.
Pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the sides of the cheese just start to brown.
Oh man, I cannot wait to stick a tortilla chip in this…but wait! It is currently like molten lava (or so I’ve heard. It’s not like I’ve burned my tongue a dozen times before in my inpatience.) So, spoon some of the dip onto a plate and allow it to cool off for 42 seconds…waiting 45 seconds would be sheer agony.
I’m not sure that I can convey how good this is in words, so let me instead say that it makes my eyes roll into the back of my head and causes my toes to curl involuntarily. All of the different cheeses meld together to add a complexity of creamy flavor. The spinach and the artichoke are subtle, but not lost in all of the cheeses. You’ll notice that this recipe has no mayonnaise in it. I used sour cream instead to keep it from tasting too heavy. I think the balance worked out perfectly. This is meant to be an appetizer, but I have no qualms about making a meal out of this.