I don’t know if there is a higher compliment to a home cook than when a meal you make gets absolutely obliterated by those you are serving to. Not just “no leftovers” territory, but rather an “Is it gone already? But…I didn’t even get any…” followed by sad faces and the inevitable gnashing of teeth territory.
If you want to wade into that sort of best host ever(!) sort of territory, even at the risk of those negative aspects (sad faces aren’t ideal, and teeth gnashing can lead to dental issues), I cannot give a higher recommendation than to say that you absolutely need to make this dip! Spooning out and reserving a portion for the aunt you didn’t know was coming for dinner, so she doesn’t pout when she arrives 45 minutes late still expecting cheesy, spinach-y, artichoke-y goodness, is also recommended.
I made this dip on Saturday night, polished off an eighth of it myself, and another equal-sized portion with the help of my wife, then tossed it in the fridge. The next day I brought the remaining three quarters to my parents for a family dinner. Easily reheated, I served it to my sisters and their husbands while awaiting the real meal. Honestly, it disappeared much faster than I’d anticipated. I mean, I knew it was pretty good, but it turns out it was “even my picky six-year-old niece likes it” good; “brother-in-law jokes about licking the dish, and would if he’d had some privacy” good; and unfortunately, “you mean you didn’t save any for your aunt, who would have very much liked to have enjoyed some herself” good.
My recipe is an adaptation of a version I found over at a blog called The Comfort of Cooking. I searched hi and lo on Google for a recipe that sounded just right, then modified it to account for my desire to use fresh spinach and a blend of cheese that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg – or any other appendages, for that matter…
Anyways, it’s so good, that I don’t think there’s anything – ANYTHING(!) – that I’d change, except to maybe save some for my aunt, just in case she happens to show up. Sorry, Auntie!
Hot and Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- 1 large bundle spinach, approximately 1 lb. w/ stems
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups shredded Cracker Barrel Italiano cheese mix
- 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped finely
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Tear off the spinach leaves, discarding the stems. Wash the leaves in a colander under cold water, making sure to remove all dirt and sand. Shake dry, and place in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Add the butter and cook the spinach, stirring occasionally, until it has wilted significantly (approximately 3-4 minutes).
- Remove the spinach to a sieve and press down to remove excess liquid.
- Carefully, dice the hot spinach. Alternatively, you can simply tear the spinach into small pieces before beginning the cooking process.
- In a large bowl, mix the spinach with 1 1/2 cups of the Italian cheese mix, along with the artichoke hearts, garlic, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and salt.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized baking dish, preferably one just large enough to contain the mixture.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and bake at 400°F for approximately 25-30 minutes.
- Serve while still hot (though it’s also good at room-temperature) with chips, such as tortillas.
- Leftover dip refrigerates well and can easily be reheated in the oven or microwave as desired.
Serves: one small army