Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Dip with a Twist

Last week my friend Maryann had a birthday and to help her celebrate, I made what seems to be America's favorite ooey, gooey, munchy, dippy, comfort food- Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip. I added a little flavor booster that really took the dish to a new level- Roasted Garlic. Plus I lightened the ingredients as much as I could so we can all have a few more helpings. Here are the ingredients and simple instructions to roast the garlic, in case you've never done that before.

Baked Roasted Garlic, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Roasted Garlic
1 small head of garlic
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

The Dip
8 oz neufchatel cheese (lower fat cream cheese) softened to room temp
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup reduced fat shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup lite sour cream
1/3 cup lite mayonnaise
10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach thawed or defrosted in the microwave, then squeezed dry to remove any liquid
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (any size can will work)
1 head of roasted garlic
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot sauce

To roast the garlic: Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven as it pre heats. Remove some of the outer layers of the garlic skin if they are plentiful. Cut the top off the head of the garlic and place on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Seal the foil and place on pre-heated baking sheet. Roast 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and squeeze the roasted pulp into your mixing bowl (discard the skin). Doesn't that garlic look perfect?

To make the dip: Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl using a rubber spatula or sturdy spoon. When well mixed, spread into baking dish that's been prepared with cooking spray. Maryann's was baked in a medium sized gratin pan, and mine was done in a small (individual) ramekin. If you want a cheesy top, sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese over the mixture. Bake 35 minutes and serve with pita chips, grilled Italian bread or raw veggies.

Re-mix: This is a very smooth dip, so if you want a bit of a surprise crunch, add a small can of diced water chestnuts to the mixture (I've done that before). Another thought I had was adding carmalized onions instead of the garlic to the mix.  I will try this and post an addendum to this recipe if the onions are as sweet with this combo as I think they will be. I'll be making this all summer and serving it with raw vegetables (zucchini, summer squash and radishes) and any artisan bread I come across. Hope you'll give this a try!

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