Although March is here, and it is technically (or at least according to the theoretical calendar) a spring month, the snow outside remains untouched by melt (or not enough to matter, and it all froze up last night again anyway!), and so my mood for warm winter food continues – in the next instance with an utterly fantastic American-Italian dish of somewhat murky origins: Artichoke Dip.
The reason I call its origins murky is because although the ingredients used are very traditionally Italian, I have only ever encountered this dish in the United States, and in all my searches I have only ever seen it categorized under “American Food” (which incidentally confirms my understanding of where it comes from). However, if you know better, please do feel free to correct me. In any case, to me, artichoke dip is American food done right, rather than the general European view of American food as = McDonalds, which I, incidentally, don’t even consider food short of a state of biological starvation. In which case it’s a toss-up between that and finding some possibly edible reed roots to gnaw.
This, however, is no McDonalds and no tough roots, and is in fact wonderfully delicious, despite this particular version being vegetarian – a fault easily remedied by adding crumbled bacon or some cooked and chopped prawns, crabmeat or crab sticks to the mix. It can also work great with some spinach – just thaw some chopped spinach, squeeze the water out, and toss in along with artichokes. On top of being lovely on any other occasion, this is amazing after having had a bit to drink the day before – and one doesn’t really need the excuse of a real hangover (neither T nor I had one after last weekend’s parties) to have an excuse to make a stomach-settling
hangover, excuse me, Sunday brunch.
In addition to being good to eat, and very, very easy to make, this has the benefit of being very low in carbohydrates and high in fibre (for a dip), and therefore also of negligibly low GI index (for those concerned), and suitable for diabetics. In fact, I am surprised this isn’t more popular in Europe. It should be. It certainly is with me (T tends to make happy-male noises whenever I make it, and then puts it away with a heartwarming gusto).
So, what gives?
- 1 standard sized can of artichoke hearts in water – drained and with the water squeezed out
- ~ 2dl Turkish yogurt (the 10% fat version). Greek may be substituted.
- 2 cups (3-4dl) loosely packed (not compacted) shredded cheese – I use a mix of whatever is in the fridge and parmesan in a proportion of 3 : 1
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3-5 large garlic cloves (For me – you can use less. Or more, if you are brave.)
- ~ 20g (a few small pats) of butter, salted or unsalted does not matter here
- 1 chili pepper, seeded (unless green in which case I don’t bother beyond washing and cutting tail off)
- 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon dried oregano or thyme, or 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence mix
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 175-180°C.
- Put garlic, salt and chili in the food processor. Blitz until finely minced.
- Add artichokes (half if using a mini-chopper, all if yours is large), blitz till chopped. Flop into bowl. Repeat with remaining artichokes if using the mini-chopper.
- Add yogurt, oregano (or other dried or fresh herbs) and black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Add 2/3 of the cheese. Mix until combined. The mixture should now resemble grey-green lumpy thick batter (rather unattractive to be honest)
- Place a small piece of butter into each individual casserole or several around the bottom of a larger baking dish.
- Spoon the dip out into whatever you want to bake it in (on top of said butter) and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the dip is melted together and the cheese on top is browned.
Can be served with crudites, corn chips, toasted bread pieces, or just a fork. I like the fork. It, along with a personal cocotte (so that I don’t have to – gods forbid! – share), is my ultimate way to greedily devour this. Curled up on sofa with a throw in my lap and a glass of moderately dry white wine. Yes.