It's time to think about having dinner parties out on the deck again, if it's not raining. It's nice to make an appetizer to get things started. Inspired by spring, this recipe uses artichokes as the main ingredient. Artichokes are a perennial thistle originating in the Mediterranean. They taste fabulous steamed when you dip the leaves in butter and garlic. The “meat” at the bottom of the leaves and the heart are so good in melted garlic butter.
This artichoke and spinach dip is served in an artichoke bowl and surrounded by cut vegetables to dip into the creamy mixture. Most artichoke and spinach dip recipes I have seen use chips or bread as the dipping “tools”, but this version is low fat. You can use carrots, celery and broccoli to serve with it. Using the artichoke as a bowl is a really easy way to make the platter look beautiful. If you make the artichoke bowl, the whole thing takes an hour to make (you can put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it). If you choose not to make the artichoke bowl, it takes about ten minutes to prepare and will taste just as great. You could also substitute the fresh spinach with frozen; although, fresh is best and only adds about ten minutes to the process. I used the reduced fat garden vegetable Philadelphia cream cheese. It really is tasty and an affordable way to make a delicious and beautiful appetizer for your family and friends. You can have your guests nibble on this while you grill your meal. Yes, it's grilling season again. Below, you will find a video of me making this appetizer.
You can get everything you need for this recipe at Cub Foods in Mankato: 1800 Madison Ave, 507-625-9222.
Artichoke and Spinach dip
Time: one hour
1 large artichoke
4 Tbsp butter
1 bunch of fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 8oz. container of Philadelphia reduced fat garden vegetable cream cheese
1 14oz. can artichoke hearts
1 14 oz. jar roasted red peppers
½ C. reduced fat sour cream
½ C. parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 3 inch sticks
5 celery stalks, chopped into 3 inch sticks
6 broccoli florets, cut into bit sized pieces
Cut off the step of the artichoke so it sits flat. Then, cut off the top of the artichoke to make the top flat too. This will look better as a bowl. Fill a pot with 1 inch of water and place a metal steamer in the pot. Place the artichoke in the steamer and turn the heat on medium high. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for 40 minutes. The artichoke is ready when a leaf pulls out easily.
Cut the stems off of the spinach and wash the leaves very well. Spinach leaves tend to be gritty. In a skillet, melt the butter and sauté the sliced garlic for five minutes. Add the spinach and allow to wilt in the butter for five minutes.
In a food processor, combine the garden vegetable cream cheese, artichoke hearts, and spinach. Pulse for four or five times. Then, add sour cream, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Pulse four or five times more.
Chop up your vegetables and arrange on a platter, leaving a space in the middle for the artichoke bowl. Now, your artichoke should be finished. Let it cool for a couple of minutes so you can work with it without burning your hands. Start pulling out the inside leaves, leaving the outer leaves to form a bowl. Once you get down to the “hair” of the artichoke gently remove with a spoon (see my video). You will be left with the outer leaves and the bottom heart of the artichoke. Spoon in the dip and place in the middle of your vegetables. You will have left over dip to refill as needed. Enjoy.