One of the things I reeeelly, reeeelly love about parties at people’s homes in America are the wonderful big bowls of dips that friends bring over for gatherings both large and small, whether or not they’ve been asked to bring food. They are a particularly American thing: we don’t have the same tradition over here in the UK. (We tend to deal more in little plastic tubs of houmous from M&S, if we can be bothered to bring hors d’oeuvres over. And that’s pretty unlikely as it is.)
Tonight is the American Super Bowl, a night where more dips are consumed than any other, so I thought I should run a timely homage to my adopted country, by sharing my Artichoke & Spinach Dip recipe.
The first thing to acknowledge about the whole dip-page thing is that they are very rarely bursting with goodness. Unless your view of goodness is all about sour cream, cheese and a zillion calories, in which case your luck is so in.
The second is that dips aren’t just something delicious whizzed up in the food processor in seconds (altho that kind, especially bean ones, are excellent too): they are layered, they are often baked, they are all sorts of yummy. I have a particular fondness for the layer dip, and I have an extremely popular recipe for my version here. (This one is kind of like nachos, stacked with guacamole, salsa, refried beans, sour cream, and grated cheese.)
My second favourite dip is Artichoke & Spinach, a dip that is basically unknown over on the English side of the Atlantic. I first had it in an East Village bar in New York, and was speechless at the more-ishness. It’s a baked dip, so served hot, and is rich with the tangy artichokes, cheese, cream and spinach. Even the presence of Popeye’s favourite vegetable can’t make this healthy. But it is damn good.
There are a thousand and one recipes out there. Some use a roux-based white sauce for extra creamy dippiness, others, like mine, for simplicity and speed’s sake, are cheese, mayo and cream-based. This makes for a less sloppy mixture, but is equally good.
And it is very, very easy.
Turn the oven onto 180C/350F. (You can always take this uncooked to bake this at your destination, in which case don’t turn on the oven.)
Simply drain a can of artichokes, and finely chop them.
Defrost your chopped frozen spinach. (If you don’t have kitchen scales, a good way to guess is to fill the empty artichoke can with the pucks of frozen spinach. This should give you about the right amount. My microwave is broken, so I defrosted mine in a saucepan over a medium heat with a tablespoon of water.)
Tip the cream cheese, Parmesan, sour cream and mayo into a big bowl, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Mix in the spinach and chopped artichokes.
Grind over lots of black pepper and add salt (Maldon if you have it). Taste and adjust seasoning if you need to.
Tip into an overproof bowl. I used a shallow Le Creuset dish, but deeper is probably better)
Cook for around 20 minutes.
Eat with tortilla chips/pitta/carrot sticks etc. Smear over your thighs etc…
Artichoke Hearts x 1 can. 400gms/14oz. (Drained 240gms/9oz). Chopped small
Frozen chopped Spinach approx. 7oz/200gms
Cream cheese 200gms/7oz. I used 1 x tub Philadelphia cheese
Parmesan Cheese 50gms/2oz. Finely grated
Soured Cream 150gm pot/5ozs
Mayonnaise 2 tablespoons Do NOT use reduced fat versions
Black pepper & Salt to taste
You don’t have to worry about being too precise here. For example, it also works fine without the mayo. You could also add about 125gms/4ozs crumbled Feta for a bit of extra sharpness
Please excuse the terrible photos: I cooked this too late to catch the daylight.