Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spinach-Artichoke Dip: Inexpensive and easily homemade

You can buy an eight ounce container of this dip for many dollars at Whole Foods or fancy delis. Or, like me, you can make almost three times as much of it yourself for about four dollars, with a prep time of under ten minutes, and most of that thawing the frozen spinach. It definately benefits from a food processor, but with a lot of scraping and pushing down you can also make it with a blender.

I've made this sort of thing for years, before I saw similar dips showing up commercially. You can make an entirely spinach version by doubling the spinach and eliminating the artichoke hearts. That's the type of green dip that shows up served in a hollowed out pumpernickle boule. A heavier version of either dip can be made by replacing half the sour cream with cream cheese or Mascarpone. The minced pimento gives nice color highlights, but has little impact on the flavor. The red is certainly welcome if the dip is for a Christmas buffet or appetizer. However you make it, it's best to prepare the dip the day you are going to serve it. While it will keep for several days in the fridge, the beautiful green color loses some intensity.

I served this dip with French baguette for guests yesterday as an hors d'oeuvre before dinner to accompany the cold New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. But that's one of my favorite wines anyway, especially with appetizers (or fish), since it is crisp, freshly acidic, and loaded with delightful citrus and other fruit fragrances. It goes extremely well with tangy and varied appetizers, salads, and antipasti.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip Tim

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts (not marinated)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 fairly small clove garlic
1 medium-small green onion (scallion)
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
Small pinch black pepper
Small pinch cayenne
1 cup sour cream (low fat can be used)
If desired, 2 tablespoons pimento, minced, for color

Thaw the spinach in its package in the microwave (put the package on a plate in the microwave, because it will drip). Squeeze out most of the juice. Place the spinach in the container of a food processor with a steel blade. Drain and rinse the artichokes and add them to the spinach. Add the lemon juice, garlic, green onion cut in pieces (roots and 1/4 inch of the tops discarded), horseradish, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Pulse until well chopped, scraping down the inside of the container. Add the sour cream and chop the mixture well by pulsing. Taste and add salt it desired. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the minced pimento if used. Let sit, cold, at least half an hour before serving so the flavors can mix.

Serve with thinly sliced baguette or pumpernickle bread or low salt crackers or pita or bagel crisps (low salt so you don't overpower the dip).

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