Spinach, Artichoke Hearts, Shallots, Garlic and a Mixture of Cheeses. Served Bubbly Hot with Tortilla Chips and Salsa. Enough for Two. This is the description that Cheesecake Factory has for one of it's famous appetizer. And the line completely describes the dip. This very popular dish is also on the menu of other Restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen and BJ's Brewhouse. The dip is served with crisp tortilla chips, however it can be served with a variety of things like toasts, stir-fried vegetables, crackers or just bread.
The main ingredients in this dish are spinach and artichoke, both of which have their own health benefits. Artichokes are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that increase health and wellbeing. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E and K; manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium and potassium. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, zinc, protein, and choline.
Castro Valley in Monteray, California is the chief Artichoke producer in USA. It is such a pleasure to drive on the way watching the big green artichokes swaying in the summer sun! It was only after moving here that I started using artichokes at home. Whether it is this dip or adding marinated artichokes to pizza or pasta, the distinct flavor of it's hearts is great. This is the first recipe here using artichokes, and I am sure I shall add many more. Till then, enjoy this warm dip with chips and bring the summer home!
Baby Spinach 2 cups
Artichoke hearts 1 cup
Garlic 1-2 cloves
Onion 1/2 diced
Mayonnaise 1/2 cup
Heavy Cream 1/4 cup
Mozzarella Cheese 1/2 cup
Olive Oil 1 tsp
To start preparation, mince the garlic, dice the onion and chop the spinach finely. I have used baby spinach, however, the normal spinach leaves work equally well. For the artichokes, you can use fresh hearts, canned artichokes or marinated canned artichokes. Take the heart quarters and roughly chop them. If you like artichoke pieces in the dip, keep the bits big; else mince finely. Preheat oven too 350 F/ 180 C.
In a pan heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic. Once the raw flavor vanishes, add the onions and stir-fry till it is translucent. Next add spinach and mix well. Sprinkle salt, pepper and seasoning. Mix well and let the water evaporate while the spinach cooks. Once the spinach is dry, add the artichoke hearts and mix to a homogenous mixture. Once the mixture is done, remove from flame and cool.
Line an oven proof bowl with cooking spray or olive oil, add the mayonnaise, and whipping cream and blend them together. Add the spinach artichoke mixture and half the cheese. Mix it all together and top with the remaining cheese. Add a little pepper powder on top and bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. The mixture will boil a little so make sure the bowl is big enough not to spill the mixture over.
After about 20-25 minutes, check if the cheese on top has melted completely and formed a semi-soft layer. Remove from the oven and serve with chips, snackers, boiled vegetables or pieces of baguette or toast.