Go-To Appetizer: Spinach-Artichoke Dip that won’t make you hate your jeans.
(Ed. note: Photo to come. And yes, there really is a recipe. Eventually.)
My November 2010 House Beautiful includes a section called “101 Party Do’s and Don’ts.”
Not unlike your average 3-year-old, I have a natural aversion to being told ‘don’t’ but some of the tips make sense. For instance #17: ‘Don’t be late’ and #52: ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously.’
Some of the rules are just plain ludicrous, like #49: ‘No colored candles!’ (apparently such an obscene violation it requires exclamatory punctuation) and #55: ‘Never use paper napkins.’ Seriously?
But this one gave me cause for pause — tip #9: “Don’t try a new recipe at a party.” Since most nights it’s a struggle just to get an old standby dinner on the table, when am I ever going to try a new recipe if not for a party?
Then again, my success rate for unveiling new recipes at dinner parties is well under 50 percent. These odds make me somewhat more inclined to follow tip #9.
With that in mind, I’m now on a mission to develop a few foolproof dinner party menus that allow me to focus on our guests rather than a flaccid soufflé. If I were ever the type to attempt a soufflé. Which I’m not.
To start? A go-to appetizer for nearly any dinner party. One that appeals to both vegetarians and carnivores alike, tastes rich without being a diet-buster, and is portable enough to take to other friends’ dinner parties.
True, that’s asking a lot. But I found one that delivers.
This recipe is based on Cooking Light magazine’s “All-Time Best Appetizer.” I found the original a bit too thick for dipping, too mozzarella-y and not quite spinach-y or flavorful enough for my tastes. So here’s my version:
Edited Spinach-Artichoke Dip (adapted from Cooking Light)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
8-ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1-2 shakes Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry and chopped even smaller
½ c. milk (I used 1%; I’m sure skim would work fine, too.)
For dipping: Baked tortilla chips (the blue corn variety work great) and assorted fresh vegetables – red bell pepper strips, carrot and celery sticks, cucumber rounds, etc.
Preheat oven to 350. Combine sour cream and cream cheese in a large bowl and blend until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix until well-blended. Spoon mixture into baking dish suitable for serving; wipe edges (much easier to do before baking). Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve with tortilla chips and vegetables.
Note: This recipe is pretty adaptable. If I have time, I’ll add a couple tablespoons of finely chopped onion for extra flavor. But please, please promise me you won’t add mayonnaise. That’s just nasty.
What it means for the jeans: The original version of this calls for an additional cup of mozzarella and more cream cheese. It lists the nutritional info for ¼ c. of dip and six chips as having 148 calories and 5 g. of fat. So this version would be even less, natch.