DIY Kitchen: creamy spinach dip
By this point in our internet relationship, no one’s going to blink when I confess that harvesting spinach from my very own garden feels like waving from a float in the parade: Southwest Farming Successes. I mean, is there anything more agriculturally affirming than growing enough spinach to actually cook, given that a bale of spinach leaves reduces to a subatomic-particle of actual food? (Pacific Northwesterners with your carpets of year-round spinach don’t need to answer this). All I know is that poor Dan is practically required to bow to each spinach leaf as he tucks a salad in his mouth.
Random, unrelated and endearingly odd photo; also, the surest way to prove that Dan wasn’t home (chickens back in the house!)
Maybe my giddiness over spinach is because it wants to bolt (flower and seed) as soon as June exhales its hot breath, while chard and kale unspool leaf after ruffled leaf until the end of days (hard frost). Maybe it’s that spinach is such a meaty leaf, compared to the delicate and translucent lettuces. Or, that growing up, spinach was the vegetable most likely to star in our family meals, and just the smell of spinach steaming reminds me of my mom. Mommy!
Despite the fact that growing up, no one kept track of my candy consumption, vegetables were part of every family dinner. (My candy consumption is the stuff of my children’s starry-eyed dreams: “tell us about how you ate Fun Dip and slurpees from 7-11 every day after school!” they beg, while Dan’s childhood stories involve the wholesome heroics of organized sports).
My mom has a great reverence for all members of the vegetal kingdom and every night at my oval childhood table, vegetables of all nationalities showed up as sure as the forks and plates. And we happily ate them. There was no cajoling or bribing or even talking about the vegetables, as happens nightly at our table: honey, lettuce is really mostly just water. It barely even has a taste. Please don’t flick it off your plate.
Spinach dip and an assortment of dishware. Liz F. and Kara R. do you see your beloved pottery?
My parents are visiting, and as usual, are so gracious about hanging out with the kids. When they bring Col and Rose back home, everyone’s all fluffed up on togetherness, Harry Potter references, and inside jokes from the latest monopoly game. I never really know how to thank them, and paradoxically, the only thing of value I even have to offer them is more time with my children.
And also, garden veggies.
So, they spend time with Col and Rose, and I make them meals with fresh garden produce, and who’s giving and who’s receiving gets completely muddled up as we all think we are the lucky ones.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, thank you, mom. For everything.
My mom was Col’s best advocate. When one nurse would say Col wasn’t ready to start breastfeeding, my mom would say, “lets ask his other nurse.”
Creamy spinach dip
This is technically an appetizer, but really it can be the centerpiece of a meal, as long as there’s some accompanying sides. Also, it’s a very forgiving dish, i.e. the proportions and ingredients can be altered in many ways. I make this with frozen spinach in the winter and it’s wonderful. This recipe can be customized to everyone’s tastes. If I was making this just for Col, I’d load it with mushrooms. If I was making it for me and Dan, I’d sprinkle in red pepper flakes or chopped green chilies. If I were making it just for Rose, I’d crush a few Fun Dip candy sticks in there.
1/2 pound of fresh spinach leaves OR 8 cups fresh spinach OR 2 bags frozen spinach (this is all approximate)
1 can olives, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped (a tomato in season would be lovely)
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded (any kind you like)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste.
Directions: Wash, steam, and cut spinach into small pieces. Place spinach (wrung of water) in large cast iron pan, or whatever oven-safe vessel you’ll be baking dip in. Add all other ingredients. Stir. Bake @ 350F for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot. Easy peasy.
Gasp as it reduces by 3/4.
Add everything else.
The mandala wheel of yum!
We usually scoop the dip with chips and carrots sticks, but you could easily eat it with a fork, over rice, inside a pita, tortilla…