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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spinach Artichoke Dip--Frugal?


Over the years there have been recipes I have not even tried because they contained ingredients that didn't fit my tight budget. That wonderful spinach artichoke dip, as delicious as it can be, was full of  too expensive things like artichokes, sour cream, and "real" Parmesan cheese, so I just enjoyed it when it was part of a potluck.

Recently, I was able to get some artichoke hearts marinated in oil on a really good sale, so I decided it was time to see if I could find a way to make a "frugal" dip from them. The following recipe cut costs and, as a nice side effect, resulted in a healthier dish,  lower in calories and fat and higher in protein. Some of the changes:
  • No mayonnaise or sour cream; instead I used plain, low fat yogurt and low fat cream cheese (while some recipes include Greek yogurt, I used "regular" yogurt, simply pouring off the whey that separates out).
  • Parmesan from a jar--it was a store-brand and about a quarter (or less) of the cost of the deli counter Parmesan and worked out just as well.
  • Reduced somewhat the proportion of artichoke hearts from most of the recipes I looked at.
  • The chiles had been purchased on sale; if you can't get these at a "reasonable" price, you could substitute hot sauce OR finely chopped fresh jalapenos (usually the least expensive of fresh peppers available here).

This is great served with homemade pita or flat bread wedges.

Want to make your own pita bread? Check this out:
 http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2012/12/pita-bread-homemade-and-wonderful.html


And then, here's a great recipe for an herbed flat bread that works well for making your own "pita chips": http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2015/11/bean-flat-bread.html


Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip

8 oz Neufchatel (low fat) cream cheese
2 c lowfat, plain yogurt
1 T oil from the artichokes (optional)
1 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 c artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (about 9 oz)
1/4 c chopped green chiles--about half a small can
12 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 c finely chopped onion
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1.  Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, oil (if used), and Parmesan cheese in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth and beginning to bubble around the edges.

2.  Press the spinach through a strainer (or just squeeze it out with your hands) to make it as dry as possible.

3.  Stir the artichokes, chiles, onion, garlic, and drained spinach into the bubbling cheese mixture. Continue to cook until heated through.

You can serve the dip at this point, though it will be relatively liquid. My preference is to continue on to step 4 for richer flavor overall. Sometimes, though, you just won't be able to wait any longer before trying it out.

4.  (The preferred method) Pour the dip into an oiled casserole and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and just starting to brown.




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