This past weekend a farewell party was being hosted for a co-worker who is moving to New York City. We were all asked, if we wanted, to bring something for the table. I knew I would be working all day the day before and the day of the party so I wanted to bring something that was not necessarily the usual faire and that I could make ahead. I decided on this recipe.
This is what Rachel Ray would call a chop and drop recipe. All the work is in the chopping and once that’s done you just stir the ingredients all together and refrigerate it. It’s a perfect make-a-head appetizer for any party.
So let’s talk zucchini artichoke olive dip:
Lesson Learned 1 – Make sure your cream cheese is room temperature: This is a pretty hearty dip, almost a spread, so it’s important the cream cheese be room temperature, otherwise you’ll never get the ingredients completely blended. If the cream cheese is room temperature it mixes easily and you want to make sure everything is thoroughly combined as you have raw garlic and onion in this dip. You certainly don’t want concentrated clumps of raw onion or garlic anywhere. The only way you’ll achieve that is with room temperature cream cheese.
Lesson Learned 2 – any kind of olives will do: I had kalamata olives in the refrigerator, but you can use pimento stuffed olives or black olives, a combination of olives or whatever you prefer or have on hand. Be sure to add only 1/4 cup of finely chopped olives to begin with and then taste the dip when it’s all mixed. Olives tend to have a lot of salt in them and you don’t want to overpower the dip by adding too many. You can always add more if you think the dip needs more.
Lesson Learned 3 – refrigerate this dip for at least 4 hours: This is the kind of dip that tastes even better if all the ingredients get well acquainted, so keep it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, although overnight is preferable.
Lesson Learned 4 – Use a garlic press to mince the garlic: Since you are adding raw garlic, it’s important that it be finely minced. The best way I’ve found to do that is with a garlic press. If you chop by hand you run the risk of having a larger chunk(s) of raw garlic somewhere in the dip. Using a press minces the garlic evenly and allows for it to be thoroughly incorporated into the other ingredients.
Lesson Learned 5 – Start out by using only a small amount of fresh cilantro: Cilantro has a very strong flavor but it also adds depth of flavor to this dip. I recommend starting out by adding only 2 tablespoons of finely minced fresh cilantro. After you taste the dip, if you feel it needs more cilantro you can always add it. I found 2 tablespoons to be more than enough.
Lesson Learned 6 – Squeeze the excess water out of the shredded zucchini: Zucchini, like cucumbers, has a lot of water in it. You don’t want a runny dip so it’s important to squeeze the excess water out. I just took handfuls and squeezed them over the sink until no water dripped out. You can wrap the zucchini in a towel and squeeze the water out that way as well. But, if you have clean hands it’s so much easier just using your hands and you’re not left with a dirty dishtowel.
This is so easy to make and it has a slightly different combination of ingredients than most artichoke dips. Try it at your next party. It’s sure to be a hit!
Zucchini Artichoke Olive Dip…
2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz. each), room temperature
3 cups shredded zucchini (2 medium sized zucchini)
1 jar marinated artichokes drained and chopped (you can add more if you like)
1/4 cup finely chopped olives (I used kalamata olives)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs. finely chopped red onion
2 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. lime juice (1 medium sized lime)
2 Tbs. good olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)
Appetizer crackers or a french bread baguette, sliced.
Combine all of the ingredients except the crackers and/or sliced baguette into a large bowl. Combine thoroughly. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, overnight is preferable.
Serve with appetizer crackers or a french bread baguette, sliced.