Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spinach, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

The hubster and I were lucky enough to host a Thanksgiving potluck this year, which I love doing. We invite both sides of our immediate family, so we're the lucky ones who get to spend the holiday with all our favorite people. And we get the best of all food worlds. My dad's hamkey gravy. My mother-in-law's stuffing and pie. My sisters'-in-law cookie salad and sweet potatoes.

The hubby signed us up for mashed potatoes and corn. I said, "Wow, fun. Thanks." So he told me to make an appetizer, too.

This is my take on a Paula Deen recipe, the photos of which I've been drooling over for months. Plus, you can make this ahead of time and bake it right before your guests arrive, so it's a great recipe for entertaining.

I like regular spinach and artichoke dip, but this recipe has a little more zing and character because of the roasted red peppers and a little spice. My little brother really, really liked this one, and said it tasted like something you'd order in a restaurant.

That actually wasn't quite true. We ordered spinach and artichoke dip in a restaurant a few days later, and when I asked if it was as good as mine, both my brother and the hubby responded with a resounding, "No!" My brother said, "This is something nice and warm to dip the chips in. But yours actually had flavor." So there you go.

Spinach, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
5 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup half and half
3 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
1/4 cup sour cream
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
Toasted baguette, pita crisps, or crackers, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 2-cup ovenproof dish with cooking spray.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes.

3. Add artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. Cook about 2 minutes.

4. Add half the spinach, and cook until it wilts slightly, about 1-2 minutes.

5. Add remaining spinach. Cook until spinach is completely wilted, about 4-6 minutes.

6. Transfer mixture to a strainer and press lightly to release any excess liquid. Set aside.

7. In the same saucepan, heat the half and half over medium heat. Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, and nutmeg. Cook until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.

8. Add spinach mixture, pepper jack cheese, salt, and cayenne, stirring to combine. Pour mixture into baking dish.

At this point, if you're making the dip ahead of time, slightly cool the mixture, cover it, and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. Let the mixture come to room temperature before moving on to the next step.

9. Sprinkle the dip with the Italian cheese.

10. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with baguettes, pita crisps, or crackers.

And then go get a manicure. Quickly. Go!

(I'm happy to report that my nails are now a lovely shade of Gettin' Miss Piggy With It red.)

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