I had a particular craving one day for a creamy, cheesy, garlicky, artichoke and spinach dip. From time to time, I’ll get mad cravings for food that’ll drive me buggy until I satisfy them. So, I decided to satisfy!
Because I had never made this particular dip before, I researched some recipes online. I was surprised at how many recipes called for canned artichoke hearts. I tend to lean towards a “make it from scratch” kind of mentality, so I decided to pull the hearts out of fresh, organic artichokes instead. This turned out to be a lot of work for little artichoke meat as a result. Next time I may use the canned hearts in addition to the fresh artichokes I must say, it was definitely an experience!
The end result was still delicious. One commenter used this to stuff chicken breast. What a great idea!
1 cup artichoke hearts (if using fresh you will also need an additional clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf)
1 cup ricotta cheese
8-ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
If you are using fresh artichokes:
Snip the little thorns on the end of the leaves off with a food scissors. Then slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf. Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes and cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. I used three medium sized artichokes for this recipe and boiled for 35 to 45 minutes. Times will differ according to the size of your artichokes. You want these to simmer until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.
To get to the heart of the artichoke:
Pull off outer petals, one at a time. You can scrape the white fleshy end with a spoon and use this for your dip. This is tedious and doesn't have a fantastic result. Personally, I would save these petals to dip into melted butter. Continue peeling until all of the petals are removed. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (the "choke"). This fuzzy part covers the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the delicious and tender heart. Cut into pieces for this recipe.
Start here if you are not using fresh artichokes:
Oil a large frying pan and simmer the minced garlic and spinach over medium heat, until the spinach is wilted but still bright green (2-4 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in ricotta cheese and cream cheese, mixing well. Add artichoke hearts. Stir in red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Add half of the parmesan cheese and add lemon juice if desired. Mix well and spread mixture in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese on the top.
Putting it all together
Set baking dish on the center shelf of the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to the broil setting and broil until cheese has melted and top is bubbly with lightly browned edges. This will not take very long, so watch closely!
Serve hot and enjoy with crusty bread, vegetables, or crackers for dipping.