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Quick recipe for hot spinach, baby kale and artichoke dip

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Apr 12, 2018

(April 13, 2018) My everyday passion leads me to a place where expression comes from within.

Cooking and entertaining are subjective and point of view is what sets one apart.

Has one ever considered how many choices you have when preparing a simple dish? This detailed analytical process might seem trivial to some, but celebratory occasions depend on such meticulous planning.

Recently, I decided to make a hot spinach and artichoke dip for a special occasion. Basically, I had two choices: I could make the appetizer from scratch or make the dip from a pre-packaged mix.

Time was of the essence, so starting from the very beginning was not my best option. Pre-packaged mixes are good but do not meet the criteria of distinction.

It only took a few minutes to decide my course of direction. Knorr offers a recipe for this particular dip that is on the back of their Vegetable Recipe Mix. This sounds good and will save time but I decide to put my own twist on it.

The very first ingredient listed in Knorr’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip is cooked, frozen spinach. Frozen spinach costs less and the taste reflects it, fresh spinach is the only option and well worth the extra money.

I have also chosen to add baby kale to the sautéed spinach. Cooked spinach has a limp consistency but when combined with baby kale, it has a completely different texture. Also, the spinach by itself has a tendency to get lost when incorporated with the cheeses, water chestnuts and artichokes. But, the addition of the baby kale eliminates this and stands up better to the overall cooking process.

No details are overlooked, so the next logical question is how am I going cook the spinach and baby kale? Cooking greens in chicken stock adds complexity and enhances the overall flavor. The chicken stock also cuts the “iron taste” that can be associated with spinach.

I adore garlic so I instantly add more garlic than the recipe calls for and decide to include some coarsely chopped onion. That being said, what type of onion should I use? I opt for yellow onions because they have a bold flavor that will stand up to the array of ingredients.

The next key question is how to incorporate the garlic and the onions into the dish. I add the garlic and onion to the chicken stock before adding the greens. This step allows the fragrant vegetables to not only get soft but become more evenly distributed throughout the broth.

Knorr’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip recipe calls for Monterey Jack, cheddar, or Swiss cheese. I choose Monterey Jack because of its mild flavor and melting qualities. Monterey Jack contributes to the cheesy factor and at the same time allows the star components to come through.

In addition, I add mozzarella for a gooey, stringy effect and Food Lion Fancy Shredded 5-Cheese Italian Blend to lift the flavors of the dip which will give the dish some uniqueness.

Water chestnuts are included in the recipe. I prefer to purchase whole water chestnuts and chop them myself. This way I get the exact chop that I want.

Artichokes are also included in the recipe. I find that marinated artichokes have a tendency to be more tender than plain, canned artichokes. Some of the outer leaves may have to be discarded because of their toughness. There is nothing worse than being at a party and have a mouthful of dip and have to pull out a tough artichoke leaf.

Hot spinach, baby kale and artichoke dip is packed with a garden of goodies. This dip does not take long to make and can easily feed six to eight people as an appetizer.

If you want to upscale the dish, consider folding in some jumbo lump crabmeat. Be careful not to break up the gorgeous lumps. Either way this hot spinach, baby kale and artichoke dip is delicious. Enjoy!

 

Hot Spinach, Baby Kale and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

3 cups chicken stock

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 bags Fresh Express Baby Kale and Spinach (11 oz.), can be purchased at Walmart

2 jars (12 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained

2 cans (8 oz.) whole water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

2 (1.4 oz.) packets of Knorr Vegetable Recipe Mix

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups shredded Monterey Jack

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

1 ½ cups Food Lion Fancy Shredded 5-Cheese Italian Blend

 

1. In a large Dutch oven, add chicken stock and turn heat to medium-low. Add garlic and onions and sauté until vegetables are soft.

2. Add spinach and baby kale, cover, and steam until tender.

3. Place cooled greens into a sieve and using your hand, press down until all the liquid has been drained. Finely chop the greens and place in a large bowl.

4. Chop artichokes and remove any tough outer leaves. Place in the large bowl.

5.  Chop the water chestnuts and add to the large bowl.

6.  Add Mayonnaise, vegetable recipe mix, cream cheese, 3 ½ cups Monterey Jack, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup Italian cheese blend to the large bowl that includes the vegetables. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

7.  Place dip in an 8-inch by 8-inch Pyrex baking dish. There will be approximately 1 cup leftover.

8.  Combine remaining ½ cups Monterey Jack, Mozzarella and Italian blend into a small bowl. Mix well and top dip with extra cheese.

9.  Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and take a large spoon and break up the top of the coating of cheeses. This makes it easier for your guests to dip into the dip.

*Food for thought – take the extra cup of leftover dip, add a touch of cheese, and give to someone to brighten up their day.

Secret Ingredient – Generosity. “No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted.”

— Aesop

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