Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I love this dip, the spinach and artichoke dip. Whenever I see it on the menu in a restaurant, I always have the urge to order it as an appetizer (and probably end up doing so if others are OK with it). More times than not, I am disappointed with the dip - either it is too watery, not thick enough, not enough cheese / spinach / artichoke, not hot enough, or all of the above. The chips can be a problem too - they are sometimes too greasy / oily, or just stale / hard. So far, I like the spinach & artichoke dip at Milestone's the best. It is pretty consistent; I had it watery just one time out of the many times I've ordered it, and the chips are the perfect size of dipping - slightly salted, crispy, and long in shape, which you can break up and dip again without having to double-dip. It also comes with sour cream and salsa.

Never did I think that one day, I would be making my own spinach & artichoke dip. It called out to me because of two reasons: 1) my friend was having a potluck party for new years and he told me I should bring some sort of appetizer because he got the mains taken care of, and 2) I got myself a food processor on boxing day (my one and only purchase on boxing day, online too). Isn't it beautiful? =D

I wasn't counting on the food processor to arrive before the party so even though I had the spinach & artichoke recipe in mind, I knew I needed a back-up appetizer. This became irrelevant as the food processor arrived a day later =) 

I found this "Hot Artichoke & Spinach Dip II" recipe on, it was rated 4.5 / 5 stars with 1,341 reviews (I did not bother finding out what the "Hot Artichoke & Spinach Dip I" was - I was lazy - a revised version is usually better anyway). This recipe actually did not call for the use of a food processor, but there's no way that I'm going to do all that chopping now that I have a food processor.

The dip was a huge hit at the party, the whole thing was done and scraped clean. When it was in the oven, the kitchen smelled so good - the baked cheese aroma filled the whole floor. It was hard to resist not having some when it came out of the oven when it was hot and bubbly (I re-heated it at my friend's house). I will for sure make this dip again for any party / gathering / pot luck =)

(12 Servings)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Notes on the ingredients
- I used sour cream instead of mayonnaise (many reviewers suggested doing this)
- Frozen spinach, sold in a bag at the frozen vegetable section, is better than fresh spinach. Make sure to squeeze as much water out as possible. After squeezing, that one bag of frozen spinach worked out to be 1 cup exactly (which is perfect since I doubled this recipe for the party)
- Similar to the spinach, squeeze as much water out of the artichoke hearts
- Instead of getting the separate grated cheese, I was lazy and bought a bag of shredded Kraft cheese; it had Provolone and Emmental cheese instead of Romano cheese - I didn't think this was a big deal at all.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a small baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach. 
This is where I started deviating from the recipe and used the food processor instead. I separated it into three steps (I'm sure you can dump everything in the food processor at once but it was my first time using the food processor and I was babying it haha).
3. Put the cream cheese, sour cream, dried basil, garlic salt, and garlic into the processor. Mix.

4. Add the thoroughly squeezed spinach and artichoke hearts into the bowl. Mix.

5. Lastly, put in the cheese. Since the shredded cheese will melt in the oven, just need to incorporate it in quickly.


6. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned

Finished product. Golden brown edges and bubbly (too bad you can't tell from the picture that it was bubbling). 

The recipe called for putting the mozzarella on top of the dip before putting it in the oven. Most reviewers suggested just mixing the mozzarella in with the rest of the dip (which I did) since the mozzarella on top may become hard after being out for awhile. This is another reason why I was comfortable with buying the Kraft shredded cheese with mozzarella mixed in with the other cheeses since I didn't have to separate it.

I bought these Tostitos chips to the party. Of course you can also use pita breads, lavash crackers, baguettes, or whatever you want.

One thing that I will add more of next time is the sour cream - I noticed that as the dip got cold, it became difficult to scoop up the dip (the chips were breaking). I think more sour cream would solve this problem, which will make the dip a bit less thick (which is not a problem when the dip is hot right out of the oven, but more so when the dip gets cold).