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.
Quiche is one of those dishes that is perfect for any occasion at any time of the day. It makes a hearty breakfast accompanied by fresh fruit or a light lunch with a salad, plus there are so many varieties that you’re bound to please any picky palette. They are also super easy to freeze and reheat (just defrost your quiche the night before you plan to bake it) if you want to make a few of them at a time.
I found a basic recipe from Paula Dean from the Food Network and made it my own (sorry Paula!). My recipe changes depending on what I have in the fridge, garden, what I’m craving or who I’m catering to. Although I think bacon should be in everything, I can understand if someone wants to omit it from their recipe. 🙂
That’s spanakopita, or Greek spinach pie. I tried it for the first time at The Living Room. I love spinach, feta and pastry so after taking the first bite, I was in crispy/gooey heaven. I needed to learn how to make these immediately! After doing some research I learned that there are two methods of preparation: The pan method (very similar to Baklava) or the folding (triangle) method, perfect for individual servings.
1 pound fresh spinach or 10 ounces of frozen spinach
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/3 pound feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
6 tablespoons flour
10-15 phyllo sheets, thawed
3 cubes unsalted butter, softened to melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
If you are using fresh spinach, rinse and stem the spinach, chop into small pieces or tear into shreds. Drain well to thoroughly dry.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the spinach and chopped onions and saute until the spinach wilts and cooks down, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a sieve and drain well; set aside in large mixing bowl.
If you are using frozen spinach, thaw thoroughly, drain well. Also squeeze/press the water from it.
Place in a large mixing bowl. In a medium pan, saute the onions until translucent; add to bowl containing thawed spinach.
Feta typically comes packed in brine, so give it a quick rinse under cold water. Let it drain on a paper towel for a couple minutes. Then you can crumble it into the bowl containing the spinach and onions.
Add the flower, chopped parsley and eggs; mix thoroughly.
Melt the 3 cubes of butter (low heat; don't let it bubble)
Brush the 9' x 13' baking pan with olive oil.
Lay 6 phyllo sheets in the pan, lightly brushing each with melted butter before adding the next layer. Brush all the edges first since that is where drying will begin.
Spoon half the spinach mixture over the top of the phyllo and carefully spread evenly to within about 1/2 inch of the edges.
Lay 6 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each one with melted butter before adding the next layer. Spread the remaining spinach mixture over the top
Finish off with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each as previously done. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to set.
Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Test by inserting a table knife to the center. If it comes out relatively clean, your spanakopita is done. Don't let this go beyond golden brown. Let cool for 5 to
10 minutes, cut into squares, and serve.
Folded Triangle Method:
Cut one stack of working strips at a time or your phyllo sheets will dry out. Use only 1 strip/sheet for each triangle. The length and width of the strips depends on what size you want to end up with when the triangle is finished. The Greek lady I got this recipe from recommends at least 2 inches wide and no more than 8 inches long.
Keep any unused strips covered with a damp towel or cloth. It's helpful to have a partner here.
One can brush on the melted butter and drop between 1 and 2 heaping tablespoons of filling onto the strip, depending on the width of your strip and desired finished size. The other person can fold.
The closing edge should seal the triangle, if it doesn't, just apply a little of the melted butter to the edge and seal it up.
These triangles will cook more quickly than the pan method, about 15-20 minutes. In this case, use a wooden toothpick to test the center. Essentially, you want the cheese to be melted and the layers of phyllo cooked.