A Weekend Indulgence on a Weekday: Artichoke Hearts with Spinach and Cream Cheese

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This sounds a little fancier than it may be, but it’s a spinach and artichoke dip.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Good Book Cookbook.  It’s described on the back cover as a “’cook’s tour’ of Bible” and recipes have scripture references or stories relating to the recipe.  There is even a section in the back putting together recipes from the book for things like a Passover Dinner, Easter, and even a couple with names like, “King Solomon’s Feast” or “Persian Banquet.”  I’ve never put together one of those but simply put it’s full of Middle Eastern recipes.  Most of them are very simple, cheap to put together, nutritious, and super yummy!  This is probably the recipe from it we make the most, next to the Kibbeh, Lentil Pancakes, Broiled Fish with Honeycomb, or Esau’s Pottage…ok, sounds like there are a few more recipes I need to share!

Anyway, this is SO good and comes together in just a few minutes.  This is doubled from the original recipe because my husband loves it so much there are never any leftovers if we don’t and it’s too good not to have any more the next day!  Halve the recipe if you want and bake in a pie plate, casserole dish, or 8×8” baking dish and bake the same amount of time.  But go on and double it – you’ll be glad you did!

I think as far as spinach-artichoke dip recipes go this one isn’t too bad, considering the bad rap they often get.  The only cheese is the cream cheese and you can substitute your favorite cooking oil for the butter.  Spinach and artichokes are both very good for you as is onion and sometimes that’s our whole meal – the dip and bread or crackers and some veggies or fresh fruit.

This last weekend was the Super Bowl and the plan was to make it then, but we decided last minute to stop on the way home at a little Mexican place we had spotted not far from our new place and so neither of us were hungry for a rich dip later.  So it’s Tuesday night but I still served the tortilla chips I had gotten to serve with it as a treat, but I actually prefer it with some nice gluten-free crackers or bread.  For my grain-free peeps there are plenty of options – I love it on a baked potato, hubby loves it over a hamburger or piece of chicken – there are lots of possibilities. 

The dip itself is gluten-free, but not dairy-free obviously.  I saved up an entire day’s allotment of dairy intake for this, and it was worth it!  Hope you enjoy it too.

 

The Recipe

 

24 ounces (3 – 8 ounces each) packages cream cheese at room temperature

½ cup milk

6 scallions or ½ an onion, chopped (the original recipe called for shallots (which I never have around unless a recipe calls for them) or scallions.  The scallions are good but I more often have onion lying around.  I used a yellow onion here but red are good too – and pretty!

2 Tablespoons butter (I use that or coconut oil – make sure your choice is heat-stable.)

24 ounces cooked spinach (frozen may be used), well drained and chopped (I think fresh is easier than frozen – I hate squeezing out the frozen packages…and several times I’ve forgotten to thaw it in the first place!  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it tastes better too.)

24 ounces cooked artichoke hearts (I like the kind marinated in oil and spices – it gives such good flavor to the dip – but for those of you gluten-free, remember to check your labels!  Quarter them, if they aren’t already, and if they’re awfully big I’ll give them just a rough chop so there aren’t huge chunks in the dip.  Also, it can be kind of hard to find jars that double to the 24 ounces but I don’t worry about it.  The spinach too; I don’t measure exactly but just eyeball it.  If you like one more than the other be more generous with one than the other.)

¼ teaspoon dried thyme or ½ teaspoon fresh thyme (these measurements are from the original recipe – I actually use quite a bit more than that – but we like thyme.)

Salt and pepper to taste

(Like it spicy?  Try adding a little cayenne pepper or some red pepper flakes too.)

 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Mash cream cheese and milk together in the bottom of a baking dish (I use a 9×13” cake pan) and set aside.  In a small skillet, sauté scallions or onion in butter or oil until golden.  Then I like to add my chopped fresh spinach and give it a quick sauté, just until it begins to wilt, before resuming the recipe.

In the baking dish, place sautéed onions, spinach, artichoke pieces, thyme, salt, and pepper; toss with cream cheese mixture.

Cover and bake 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  This can be an appetizer, side, or main dish – depending on your mood.  I like to serve it as a main dish with a lettuce or fruit salad on the side, or – like tonight – as a side with a protein.  Tonight’s selection was an all-natural, gluten-free chicken sausage I had found while shopping.

 

 

Enjoy!

Emily

 

The Good Book Cookbook, by Naomi Goodman, Robert Marcus, and Susan Woolhander; 1986, 1990, 1995; ISBN – 0-8007-1706-6

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