Spinach artichoke dip

Take this dip for a “spin”

Originally appeared in the February 9, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

Dips can be questionable.  We’ve all been there:  a casserole dish, wreathed with crispy chips, is filled with what looks like a delicious mixture; yet what you discover is not some savory creation, but rather a suspicious cream cheese concoction or a crock of molten mayonnaise.  Many of these dips are afterthoughts—people literally dump a few ingredients together in the name of saving time.  Read more:The most critical thing about dips is their foundation.  In the case of this recipe, the backbone is a mother sauce called béchamel.  You likely know béchamel.  If I told you it’s a mixture of melted fat, flour, and milk, you might conjure images of sausage gravy.  And if you added a little parmesan and nutmeg to that aforementioned trio of fat, flour, and milk, you’d have a very fine Alfredo sauce.

After you bake this dip, cover the top with some Parmesan and place it under the broil.  This blisters the top and adds a nice effect at service.  And if you’re tired of the same old tortilla chips, try cutting up some pita pockets, drizzle them with oil and kosher salt, and bake them until golden.  If all these elements are working on concert, this dip will be a hit—no question.

Spinach artichoke dip

Serves 6 – 8

  • As needed, olive oil
  • ¼ onion, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, small chop
  • 16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, thoroughly drained
  • 10 ounces canned artichoke hearts, coarse chop
  • 18 fluid ounce whole milk, warm
  • 1 ounce flour
  • 1 ounce melted butter
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • To taste, ground nutmeg
  • 2 drops fresh lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon zest
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 ounces grated Parmesan (plus more for garnish)
  • To taste, Tabasco sauce

1.  In a large pan, sauté onion until translucent; add garlic and cook till tender (do not brown).  Add spinach and sauté until hot.  Add artichoke hearts.  Remove from heat and reserve.

2.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add flour to make a paste (this is called a roux).  Gradually add warm milk to the roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Bring sauce to a simmer.  Reduce the heat, add seasonings, lemon juice and zest, and keep warm for several minutes.

3.  Add béchamel mixture to spinach and artichoke mixture.  Increase heat slightly.  Add Worcestershire, Parmesan, and mix well.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.  Transfer dip to an oven-safe pan.   Top with remaining parmesan cheese and bake at 350° F until browned on top.  Serve with toasted pita chips or tortilla chips.

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