Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Artichoke Spinach Dip

1 10-ounce box frozen cut or chopped spinach, thawed
1 12-ounce jar artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheese
3 thick slices bacon
1/2 shallot
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Serve with Homemade Pita Chips

Heat your oven to 400° F. I drained the marinated artichokes and then pulsed them in my small cuisinart until they were roughly chopped.

I let the frozen chopped spinach sit on the counter for about an hour to defrost. Then I squeezed the spinach between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Here is the key to great artichoke spinach dip. I fried three pieces of bacon, let cool on a paper towel and crumbled into my mixture at the end.

But wait! Don't clean that pan just yet. I had about a tablespoon (maybe a little less) of bacon grease in my saute pan so I chopped up half a shallot...

And threw that in the pan along with a tablespoon or two of chopped garlic. If the grease is super hot it will fry the shallots and garlic which isn't exactly what we are going for. I just want to soften the veggies so I turned the heat off and then threw the shallot and garlic in.

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, and cheese (whatever cheese you want to add.) Add the shallot and garlic mixture along with the crumbled bacon. Season with the salt and pepper. You can see in this picture below I used whipped cream cheese with chives in it. I also used Colby Jack cheese and a Pepper Jack cheese combo. YUM!

You could at this point scrape the mixture into a small oven-safe baking dish and bake at 350 until lightly golden and heated through, about 15 minutes. I've done it this way before and I like to sprinkle cheddar on the top and then bake, it browns and bubbles to make a beautiful dip.

I was having guests over and wanted to do a fancier presentation so I purchased a $3 round loaf of sourdough, cut the top off and hollowed it out a little. After mixing all the ingredients, I stored it unbaked in the fridge overnight. When guests arrived I scooped about a cup into a saucepan and heated it over medium heat stirring often. You simply want it heated through so all the cheeses melt together. This takes less than five minutes. Stir, stir, stir and then dump it right into your bread bowl.

We had a beautiful spread. The spinach artichoke dip with homemade pita chips was my "heavy" hors d'oeuvre. We had grapes, strawberries, cajun mixed nuts, spicy cashews, and a selection of cheeses: Manchego, Cheddar, Parmesan.

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