Spinach Artichoke Red Pepper Dip…

Let’s face it. Once the football season is over there is definitely a sports vacuum. Major league baseball is just starting to tune up at spring training, college basketball still has over a month before the NCAA tournament, the next major in tennis is not until May, and everything else just seems to be a bunch of noise. And during this time I think back to some of the major highlights of recent sporting events. In my mind, nothing can surpass what the Chicago Cubs did last year but this past Super Bowl was no slouch of a game either. Then I started thinking about my Super Bowl party this past year and what I served and I thought, wow, I never posted this recipe!

This recipe was so much fun. I wanted what I served to be easy and fun and allow me to spend time with my guests and not in the kitchen. I decided to serve this dip along with a hot crab dip for appetizers. Dinner consisted of slow cooker bbq pulled chicken sandwiches with cole slaw  and sliced tomatoes. The meal was a hit and this appetizer was the star of the show!

So let’s talk spinach artichoke red pepper dip…

Lesson Learned 1 – If you want to impress your guests, make this appetizer: This recipe couldn’t be any easier and boy does it impress. You basically combine the ingredients in stages in the food processor, put it in the carved-out bread bowl, bake it and the oven does all the rest. I was amazed at how great it looks and above and beyond that, it is absolutely delicious. It is a fabulous appetizer to serve at any party!

Lesson Learned 2 – Take your time when carving out the bread bowl: I used an artisan sour dough bread that I bought at the grocery store. You start out by cutting the opening on top of the bread. Make it large enough so you can stuff the bread but not too large that you cut off a lot of the bread. Then take a paring knife and begin cutting out the inside and under the sides. Take your time so that you don’t cut to close to the crust on any side. You want at least about 1 inch of bread at the bottom. You can do a little less than that on the sides. And make sure you save what you cut out. You can cut that into cubes and serve it as one of the sides with the warm dip. Yum!

Carved Out Bread Bowl

Carved Out Bread Bowl

Lesson Learned 3 – Combine your ingredients in stages in the food processor: Your food processor will be your best friend for this recipe. But don’t mix everything all at the same time. Some ingredients you will want mixed until smooth, other ingredients you will want chunky. Follow the process in the recipe and you will get the correct consistency for this dip.

The correct consistency for the dip

The correct consistency for the dip

Lesson Learned 3 – Garnish is your best kept secret: Are you always looking for ways to make your dish look more professional? Well look no further. Let garnish be your best friend. This appetizer baked in a bread bowl is pretty impressive on its own but what set the presentation over the top was cutting up some flat leaf parsley and garnishing the bread bowl and the accompaniments with the parsley once they were on the platter. You could also dice up some jalapeños and sprinkle them on top of the dip. Since I actually included them in the dip I chose not to use them as a garnish this time. But diced jalapeños are also an option. Garnish tends to make the colors in your food pop and in general makes every dish look more professional. So don’t forget the garnish.

Lesson Learned 4 – Did you ever hear of a Daikon? When looking at things I could serve with this dip, one recipe that I saw suggested daikon. I had never heard of daikon before. I googled it and found out that is part of the radish family. I’d never seen it at the store and so I thought if any store would have it, Whole Foods would. Well I was right. Whole Foods had it. Daikon sort of looks somewhat like a white carrot but they are not parsnips. Anyhow, they are a great side for this dip. Just cut them in rounds like you would a radish. And after I found them at Whole Foods I also found them at my local supermarket, so just look for them and try them.

Make this appetizer for your next party. I guarantee you it will be a hit! Enjoy.

Spinach Artichoke Red Pepper Dip...

  • Servings: 20-30
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Spinach Artichoke Red Pepper Dip1 large round sourdough bread

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 10 ounce box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a towel

1 cup marinated artichokes, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup + 2 Tb. chopped Italian parsley

1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped and divided

1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic infused olive oil for brushing the bread

Crackers, baby carrots, red radishes, daikon, celery and bread cubes, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a thin slice from the top of the bread. With a paring knife cut out the exposed inside to about 1 inch from the bottom and at least 1/2 inch from the sides. Cut the extracted bread into cubes and use for serving later.

Combine the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, chopped jalapeños and garlic in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the spinach and artichokes and pulse until chunky. Add the parsley, all but 1 Tbs. of the red pepper, 1 1/4 cup cheese and salt and pepper and pulse until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the bread bowl. Top with the remaining cheese and red pepper. Place the bread on a baking sheet. Brush the bread with olive oil. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Serve with crackers, veggies and crudités. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley.

Pulse for a chunky consistency

Pulse for a chunky consistency

Correct consistency of the dip

The correct consistency of the dip

Fill the bread bowl

Spoon into the bread bowl. Brush the bread with olive oil.

Garnish with cheese and red pepper

Add more cheese and roasted red pepper on top

Spinach Artichoke Red Pepper Dip

Serving Suggestion

Zucchini Artichoke Olive Dip…

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.

dip ingredientsThis 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.

zucchini artichoke olive dip

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.

zucchini artichoke olive dip

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.

garlic-press-and-sliceLesson 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…

  • Servings: 30
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS

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.

DIRECTIONS: 

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.

Zucchini Artichoke Olive Dip