On a dreary Saturday night, in the midst of fuel shortages, a stubborn pandemic, civic unrest and rivers of atmosphere… or is it the other way around? It is nice to quaff a glass of red wine with a simple hot dip made with basic and nourishing ingredients. Enter the Spinach and Artichoke Cheese dip. It’s hot. It’s cheesy. It comes out of the oven bubbling like the Big Island volcano we miss so much! – You can serve it on (or with) bread, a baguette, pita, corn chips or you can spoon it right out of the glowing casserole dish into your asbestos lined mouth.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch fresh spinach
8 ounces (or 250G) softened (room temperature) cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
14 oz (about 2 cups) drained artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1 package pita bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large saute pan over medium low heat, add oil, garlic and pepper flakes and slowly saute for about five minutes or just until the garlic starts to brown.
Add dry fresh spinach, toss around and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes over medium heat until wilted and cooked. Remove to your cutting board, dab dry with paper towel and coarsely chop.
In a large bowl place cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup Parm-Reg, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Depending on how soft the cream cheese is, there will be a bit of muscle involved here. Spend 3 minutes or so – but don’t overly mix or blend as you will lose some of the texture of this dip.
Fold in the cooked spinach, artichokes and 1 and 1/2 cups of the Mozzarella cheese and scrape into a flame-proof / high temperature baking dish that is 8 × 8 × 2 inches.
Sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan and 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese and bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until hot, bubbling and slightly browned on top.
While the mixture is baking, heat a grill pan on high and once hot, place one whole pita round on at a time. Cook for a minute or two on one side, flip and cook again on the other side. Remove to a cutting board and cut into wedges and serve on the side of the dip.
If you are hungry or in a hurry, crack open a bag of low salt corn (nacho) chips and toss them in a bowl. The upside is, the cooler chips will absorb some of the Earth mantle heat of the molten cheese dip reducing the risk of scalding or life altering burns. The dip pairs well with wine or beer.
Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident who loves his food and his coffee and is constantly on the prowl for tasty recipes ready for home preparation…