Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baked Artichoke Dip


I have an addiction that many of you share--cookbooks.  Thankfully, I have an enabler.  A dear friend of mine sends me cookbooks out of the blue (see here and here), and this cookbook was another gift brought to me by my dear friend via the USPS.  What a lovely surprise to find such presents awaiting me on my door step.


This cookbook comes from Sara Forte, "a food-loving, wellness-craving veggie enthusiast" (or so she describes herself in the cookbook), and Hugh Forte, her photographer husband, who also run a snappy little blog, The Sprouted Kitchen.  Focused on good, local food in season, the Fortes are part of the movement that has made it, I would say, to the mainstream.  There are so many good cooks, good food bloggers, and good growers out there that support this movement; all you need is one good farmers market or a grocery store committed to these qualities, and you're set.


Lucky for me, I live less than a block from mine.  While it does mean that parking on Sundays can be tricky (and believe you me that we generally avoid driving anywhere on Sunday mornings because we know there will be no parking spots when we get back), the Temescal Farmers Market is a boon.  Opened only in 2006, the market covers all of your bases--meat from Boccalone and Prather Ranch, veggies and fruits from multiple organic farms in the area (Pinnacle and Happy Boy Farms are my favorite), and chocolate from Vice Chocolates.  What more do you need?  Coffee?  They've got that, too, from Blue Bottle, but the line is way too long, so we bring our own.  There's also a mushroom farmer, a fresh pasta place, a smattering of ice cream offerings, a fabulous Indian food tent, and the Cowgirl Creamery stand.  Of course, I am leaving out the two flower vendors, the stone fruit seller, the asparagus and potato farmer, the fresh corn vendor, and the fruit stand.  And so many more.  Yum.


Anyway, I am so glad that my addiction-enabling friend sent this little cookbook my way so I could continue to be inspired to take advantage of what's (almost literally) in my backyard.  I went with this baked artichoke dip as the first offering as I was hankering for chips and dip.  Pita chips and an artichoke dip seemed to fit the bill just fine.  I do like that Forte cuts the fat with the pureed beans, and subsequently, I have made this dip again, substituting chopped, steamed asparagus for the spinach and no Parmesan cheese at all.  Both the original spinach version and the played with asparagus version felt fresh and light and just perfect for lunch at the beginning of summer.  And the leftovers do, indeed, make a fine spread for sandwiches.  Play around with the green veggies and the herbs.

And thank you, once again, my dear friend.  Even though you live hundreds of miles away from me, I get to think of you often with these cookbooks!

One Year Ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Two Years Ago: Spinach Souffle
Three Years Ago: Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


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Baked Artichoke Dip
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

Yield:
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:  
5 cups fresh spinach (about 15 ounces) (one packed cup of thawed and drained frozen spinach will work, too)
1 1/2 cups cannellini beans (one 15-ounce can)
1 cup jarred or canned artichoke hearts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt
Handful of fresh parsley leaves (plus more for garnish)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Grated zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Pita chips, sliced bread or crackers for dipping

Instructions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In a large pot with a steamer insert, steam the spinach until wilted (1-2 minutes).  Transfer to a colander to drain.  Squeeze out the water and coarsely chop.  Set aside.

3.  Drain the beans and artichoke hearts. Combine the garlic, red pepper, oregano, salt, parsley, and beans in the food processor or blender.  Puree until smooth.  Add the artichoke hearts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice to the processor and give it a few pulses until it forms a chunky puree.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

4.  Add 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the Parmesan and all of the spinach to the bean mixture, stirring with a spoon to break up any clumps.  Taste for salt.

5.  Grease an ovenproof dish.  Pour the dip into the dish and sprinkle the remaining cheeses on the top.  Bake until just browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.  Transfer the dish to the broiler and toast the top for 1-2 minutes.

6.  Garnish the dip with extra parsley and serve hot with pita chips, bread, or crackers.

(those of you with good eyes will notice in the photograph that I did not use parsley; instead I used fresh garlic greens)

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