Benson's Gourmet Seasonings Newsletter
What's New About Dips & A Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe
Hello Everyone and Welcome
One of the most popular party foods today are chips and dips. What would a party be without them? In our house our dip of choice was usually a sour cream dip seasoned with a packet of dip mix and eaten with potato chips. This was what we ate as did most of my friends and perhaps most of you. This was a high sodium treat.
As I grew-up and learned more about dips I ventured out to include other choices, such as guacamole, salsa, hummus and more flavors were added. These new dips were low sodium as they were made from scratch.
Did you ever wonder where the idea for dips came from? Here is a bit of history about dips and how they got to be so popular, at least here in America. This dip idea started when eating in front of the TV in the 1950's was becoming more and more popular. TV dinners were developed and dips as they did not need any utensils were a quick and easy snack food.
The marketing which started The Frito Company and H. W. Lays & Company on the road to the big successes they are today, also affected other food industries. Around 1952, the Lipton Company had pushed their sales of instant soup to its limits and needed to find another avenue to promote more sales. They launched a campaign that taught folks how to combine their undiluted dry soup mix with sour cream. By adding the popular chips, a convenient no utensils needed finger food was invented. So chips and dips were born out of the need or growing desire to eat in front of the television. That is still true today and it has grown to be the center stage of party foods. Whether it is a holiday, special occasion, a snack at home, or a ball game, dips play an important part of today’s lifestyle. What would a Super Bowl Party be without chips and dip? We don't even want to think about it and the following dip is one of the most popular game day dip recipes.
While doing research for this newsletter, I found that the most popular dip recipes searched for on the internet were not the more common sour cream based dips that most of us grew up with. Surprising me was the overwhelming amount of searches for Spinach Artichoke Dip. Why is this dip so popular and what is the history behind this recipe? One story is that after WWII, when the soldiers returned from the war, they wanted to enjoy some of the foods they ate while stationed overseas especially in Europe and the artichokes, spinach, garlic, lemon, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, crusty bread are all popular foods in Europe.
This dip might have started out healthy but today most versions are not. It does have vegetables but the fat and sodium is usually quite high. This dip recipe is especially searched for in the popular restaurant versions such as The Olive Garden, Applebee's, TGIF and the Claim Jumper. This recipe ranges from the not so healthy to some creative healthier versions, so you can do your own research and try others. Since I personally never ordered this dip in a restaurant as restaurant food is usually salty, appetizers are usually salty and dips are usually salty, this is a triple salt whammy which I never tried, even though I love spinach and artichokes.
So while researching recipes I found this recipe from The Food Network’s Chef Alton Brown, which was the highest rated with by far the most 5 star reviews for Spinach Artichoke Dip. It’s easy and one of the few not baked versions as it is prepared on top of the stove. It's served hot. This might not be the most traditional recipe with all the melted cheese on top, but it’s easy, ready in minutes and it's delicious. I did some tweaking to lower the sodium and increase the flavor. Enjoy!
Tasty Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
1-1/2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped*
1 clove fresh garlic minced
6 ounces cream cheese (any style**), or mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
1/4 cup sour cream (any style**) or IMO
1/4 cup mayonnaise (traditional but optional)
1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use Parmigiano-Reggiano, it is very flavorful, reduce to 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons #103 Table Tasty Salt Substitute, or more to your taste
Freshly minced parsley (optional)
In a saucepan boil spinach, artichokes and garlic in 1 cup of water until tender (just a few minutes) and drain well. Discard liquid. In a microwave safe bowl, heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and serve hot. Serve with hearty bread chunks or toasted thinly sliced bread. Or serve with low sodium crackers, bagel chips, pita chips, tortilla chips, potato chips or other low sodium or no salt added chips. Trader Joe's has several available. A good alternative to chips are crunchy vegetable crudités such as broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, sliced carrots on a diagonal, firm small red cabbage leaves, green onions, jicama, celery, radishes, cucumber, red bell pepper, etc. Let your imagination be your guide. Makes 8-10 servings. Refrigerate any that might be leftover and keeps about a week.
*Note: Try to avoid the canned artichokes as they are usually high in sodium. If using, be sure to rinse and drain them well and do not use the marinated ones. The frozen ones usually have no salt added.
** Any style cream cheese or sour cream, regular, low fat, or nonfat (remember, usually the lower the fat the higher the sodium)
With all the holidays and the dips and chips being the most popular party food, you now know they can be delicious, healthier and can be lower in sodium than you might have thought. Folks on a low sodium diet don't have to feel left out.
In case you didn't know, we do have a recipe on the website for a more traditional sour cream dip using Table Tasty instead of the usual high sodium dried soup or salad dressing mixes. Here is the link for our Table Tasty Dip.
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