~more recently updated recipes~
2006: Over the Christmas weekend, two hungry teenagers hovered in my kitchen before supper, eyeing the cookie tray. "How about a snack?" the older one asked. "Sure," I answered, opening the fridge door. "Really? Like what?" asked the younger one, hoping for cookies but knowing his Auntie Al. I felt so prepared! Inspired by a recipe from Sweetnicks', this spinach dip was already prepared.
That first night, spread on baked mini pitas, the spinach dip was an instant hit with the kids and grown-ups alike. "THIS could be addictive," munched my dad. And unlike the family addiction to Christmas cookies, this one is decidedly healthful. That's because I "turned upside down" the original recipe's proportions, using 2X the spinach, 2X the artichokes, half the sour cream and adding pimenton for smoky flavor. I suspect my version was an entirely different dip than Sweetnicks' but also more healthful ... and still delicious.
So delicious that the next day, we got out the cracker box and since then, it's been spread on breakfast toast and tucked into a supper omelet. This is a very versatile combination! It's a classic and yet entirely new. I think it will find its way to my table again and again.
2011: Once again, this easy spinach dip got rave reviews, this time at a party and for my book club.
SPINACH, ARTICHOKE & BACON DIP
Hands-on time: 20 minutes if the bacon is already cooked, otherwise longer
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes a bunch, at least 4+ cups
(If you're baking pitas, start them first, see below)
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and pressed in a colander to remove as much liquid as possible
1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, diced
3 teaspoons minced garlic
13 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, tough bits removed, chopped
1 cup sour cream
10 strips of crispy cooked bacon, crumbled (how to bake bacon, from Kitchen Parade, my food column)
1 teaspoon pimenton (my addition, this is the smoky Spanish paprika)
Kosher salt to taste (be generous)
Pepper to taste
If the spinach isn't already thawed, defrost it in the microwave right in the bag, then press in a colander to remove the liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmery over MEDIUM. Add the onion until it begins to turn golden, then add the garlic. Stir in the artichoke hearts. When the spinach is ready, stir it in. TURN OFF THE HEAT.
Stir in the sour cream, bacon and pimenton. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before serving for flavors to meld.
BAKED PIMENTON PITAS
6 ounce bag, Trader Joe's mini pitas, halved
Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange the pita halves on a rimmed baking sheet, rough side up. Spray with butter-flavored cooking spray, then sprinkle with pimenton. Bake for 10 (just crisp) to 20 (very crisp) minutes or until lightly browned.