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DIY Kitchen: creamy spinach dip

2013 May 30
by Rachel Turiel

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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.

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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!


spinach wealth

col and b:n

grandparent wealth

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.

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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.

mothers day

2005. Col’s first bath in the NICU. Pushing 3 pounds.mothers day2

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

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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.

Steam spinach.

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Gasp as it reduces by 3/4.

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Add everything else.


The mandala wheel of yum!

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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…

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26 Responses leave one →
  1. May 30, 2013

    Sigh. Every year, I plant spinach hoping for a different result. And every year, it sits there, just poking through the soil, not quite bit enough to pick yet until one day when a warm spell hits us and it goes from being not big enough to pick to bolting in the same day, usually within an hour. My undying awe to anyone who can actually grow it & harvest it.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 30, 2013

      You know, my very best spinach are plants that I seed in early fall, Septemberish, and then keep in cold frames all winter. They stop growing Nov, Dec, Jan, and then in late Feb start putting on some growth, and fill out nicely all spring and then give it up by June. This way, they’re well established to take off during their favorite March – May weather.

      • May 31, 2013

        My husband just built me a cold frame. I’m so packing it with spinach this year.

  2. May 30, 2013

    Loved the fun dip reference. My Mom had a boyfriend once who would let me go to the 7-11 and buy as much penny candy as I wanted. Remember penny candy. I would load up on somewhere around 50 cents worth, and feel like I had won the sugar lottery. Sixlets. Hubba Bubba. Bottle caps. Pixie Sticks. Those fun dip sticks were always a little weird tasting, weren’t they? XO

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 30, 2013

      Somehow I was attracted to the worst of the worst, artificially-speaking: Fun dip, necco wafers, nerds, sour gummy everything, i.e. my favorite flavor was “purple.”

  3. May 30, 2013

    1. LOVE the chicken in the house, that just made me smile so hugely today:)
    2. Fun Dip sticks were the very best part!!

    Definitely going to make this dip, maybe even sub in some other greens to use them more!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 30, 2013

      Oh sure, any greens should work.

  4. rose permalink
    May 30, 2013

    That last picture of you and your mom and Col just melts me! The way you’re looking at her is so special. xox

    • Shelby permalink
      May 30, 2013

      I agree! So lovely and inspirational to see the love between you two.

  5. May 30, 2013

    Oh those pictures of you and your mom! Instant tears, I tell you.

    What about bottlecaps? Those always figure in when I tell my kids my own 7-11 candy lore – those times we went to the Dean’s house after school where there was no parental supervision and stuffed ourselves with candy and did other WILDLY debaucherous(sp?) things like actually climbing the walls with dirty feet and loogie contests.

  6. May 30, 2013

    I don’t know the story of your child, but that little head between you two is a marvel of nature, the life that goes on from mother to daughter to son …

  7. May 30, 2013

    Oh my…. I want to be a part of your dinner table every night. Pretty please?

  8. Andrea permalink
    May 31, 2013

    i stopped to ponder that bath photo. marveling at your mothers smile. that smile she shines in its the only way i know her. smiling like that, in this space.

    and then i scrolled down to the next photo. and burst into tears seeing you return that smile to her.

  9. Andrea permalink
    May 31, 2013

    oh, and the spinach dip looks great too.

  10. May 31, 2013

    i love grandparent wealth!!!

  11. Amy Carney permalink
    June 1, 2013

    I love reading your posts….This one made me laugh and my littlest is totally jealous of the “indoor” chickens

  12. June 2, 2013

    Sigh. There are times where I really wish I could force myself to like leafy greens besides lettuce…

    And I agree, your mom really does have the best smile. And you are right about grandparent wealth. One of the best kinds of wealths there is.

  13. June 3, 2013

    That looks delicious!
    And, oh what a little tiny thing Col was! So glad you had the support of your mama (among others I’m sure!)

  14. June 6, 2013

    aw your mom is so lovely. That picture of you her and col in the hospital, so precious x

  15. June 10, 2013

    I loved visiting with you here for the first time, and I love this recipe, but cannot have cheese. Being the wonderful cook that you are, could you suggest anything that would come close as a substitute for the cheese?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 10, 2013

      Dear dear dear. I have been contemplating this since I posted this. What could replace the creamy flavor of the cheese? What about a cashew-nutritional yeast-coconut oil paste? Does that sound really strange? It might be. Or it could be wonderful.

  16. Amy Morrison permalink
    June 14, 2013

    Wanted to tell you,,,, on June 2 I woke up and read this post. I was drooling over the dip and wishing I had the ingredients. Later that day I went to a dinner party and lo and behold right when I walk in I spot it! The dip, exactly. Cast iron and all. I could not believe my luck!! I look at Mindi and say happily “6512 and growing?”. “Yep”. Her husband thought we were speaking code. Good happy code it is.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 15, 2013

      Too too funny and wonderful. Thanks for sharing this!

  17. Amy Morrison permalink
    June 14, 2013

    Oh,,, and the photo of you looking at your Mom is amazing. Lucky. all of you.

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