So long spinach. Goodbye. It was nice knowing you. Until next time. You’re out of the picture. You’ve been replaced by a new green. Something much more marketable and hip and tasty, and do you want to know something, spinach? People really love the new you, too. It’s sad, but true. They can’t get enough of it. It seems to be everywhere right now. No matter where I turn, BAM, I run into it. You can’t escape it, spinach. You’re done. Cooked. No one wants you anymore. You were popular, what, in the eighties? You’ve had a nice run though, so you can’t complain. I think it’s better to go while you’re still on top. While people still remember you with admiration and nostalgia. Take the high road, on your way out. It’s the only sophisticated thing to do. One day you’ll look back at this moment and think to yourself, “Everyone was right to trade me in. I am a loser. I’ve reached my full potential.” It’s okay though, cheer up spinach. Think of all the happy and healthy times you brought all those people throughout the years—that is before kale came into the picture and stole all of your thunder, rendering you pretty much useless and unwanted. Word on the street is that even Popeye the Sailor Man is getting all his strength from kale these days. Talk about hitting rock bottom, spinach. Hitting the cold hard concrete. In the pouring rain. Shut out with nowhere to turn to.
There there spinach, don’t cry. It happens to the best of us. You should be happy that kale is getting its chance in the spotlight. It’s nice to share. Between you and I, spinach, I think it’s just a fad. People in this town like to jump on band wagons. You see, in no time they’ll get bored of kale, throwing out words like “one note” and “non-versatile.” I can see it already. You’ll be back on top…eventually. Oh spinach, I’m not saying it’ll be tomorrow or anytime soon. I’m sure it’ll be a long while before people forget about the wonder that is kale. It’s pretty magical, but I’m sure you don’t need to hear that right now.
I guarantee you though, that there will come a day when everyone drops kale like it’s hot. It’ll lose its cool factor and they’ll move on to something new and exciting. Something bigger and better. That’s where you come back in, spinach. You swoop in with a new and improved look. A rebranding so to speak. When Popeye comes running back, you say, “Get lost Sailor Man! I don’t need you!” Get yourself a new spokesperson and reinvent yourself. That’ll win America’s hearts back once again. Then you’ll slap kale in the face and send it running back to the dark hole from whence it came. You’ll have the last laugh, dear ol’ spinach. I know it’s difficult to see that right now because of all the tears and anger towards kale, but you’ll see how right I am. Hey! I know what will cheer you up! I made some dip, maybe you’d like some. Dip always makes me feel better. I tried out this new recipe. It has artichokes and lots of cheese and this deliciously wonderful green in it. Oh what green, you ask? You don’t know it. It’s a new green, spinach. Something out of this world. You’re still number one though (in my heart), and that’s all that matters.
Let’s get one thing straight right from the beginning, yes dip is amazing and delicious, and yes it’s one of my favorite snacks ever. I can’t get enough of it. But do you want to know what’s more delicious and irresistible? Bread. Bread is much more important than dip because without it, what are you going to eat your dip with? I guess you can eat it with tortilla chips, sure, but bread is much more satisfying. So let’s pretend that tortilla chips don’t exist for the sake of this argument. Bread is a must whenever dip is involved. That’s a fact. The first thing we’re going to do is make some crostini, but not really because we’re not going to add any topping to it, like crostini normally has. But anyhow, I digress. Just slice the bread into thin slices and arrange it onto a baking sheet. Drizzle the slices liberally with olive oil. Make it rain olive oil. Believe me, the bread will thank you for it later.
Place the bread in the oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Halfway through baking, remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the bread slices over to optimize their brown crunchiness. You want both sides to be golden brown. That’s required.
Once the bread is brown and crispy, remove it from the oven and immediately (carefully too, because it’ll be super hot) rub it all over with whole garlic cloves. Don’t be afraid to get all up in the bread’s face with the garlic, either. Just rub it and grate it in like you’re grating cheese with a microplane or something. I’m trying to paint you a picture. Let’s visualize, together.
**Note: You can skip this step if you’re not a fan of raw garlic taste. It does give the bread a little bit of a spicy kick because the garlic isn’t cooked, I’m okay with that. I love that. Fair warning though, have a few mints ready to go. But if other people are eating this garlic bread with you, then you have nothing to worry about. It’ll cancel out, right?**
Once the bread is sufficiently garlicy, set the baking sheet to the side and allow the bread to cool.
Okay okay, let’s try our best to pry ourselves away from that toasted bread. What are we doing again? Oh that’s right, we’re supposed to be making dip. Right.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a bit of olive oil. Toss in the onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the onions and garlic are soft and just barely caramelized.
Add the kale, a little bit at a time, stirring constantly and allowing it to wilt down before adding the next bunch.
**Note: Kale is like spinach in the sense that a lot goes a short way. It might seem like a lot of kale at the moment, but it’ll wilt down to practically nothing, just like spinach. So it’s best to add it to the skillet in batches so that it’s not overflowing and difficult to stir.**
Keep adding the kale and cooking it until it’s completely wilted and cooked.
Next up is the artichoke hearts. I’m just using canned artichoke hearts that I drained and lightly rinsed, because have you seen the entire process on how to cook and peel and get to the heart of a fresh artichoke? It’s too much work for something you could easily find in a can. I rely only very few convenience items, let this be one of them. Don’t judge me!
Give the hearts a rough chop and add them to the skillet and stir them and season with salt and pepper.
Turn off the heat and set it off to the side. Allow the veggies to cool a bit. In the meantime let’s start on the béchamel sauce. What is a béchamel sauce you ask? Well, it’s just one of those fancy schmancy French cooking terms for a rich milk sauce. According to our trustworthy source, Wikipedia, “Béchamel sauce, also known as white sauce, is made with a roux of butter and flour cooked in milk. It is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine. It is used as the base for other sauces (such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese).”
And what do you know, we’re going to be adding cheese to our sauce so I guess this makes it a “Mornay.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. Shame on me. Let’s start by making a roux, which like it says up there, is a mixture of butter and flour. It’s used as a thickener.
Heat a pot over medium heat and melt some butter into it. Add the flour and give it a stir, cooking it for a few minutes to get a nutty aroma to it. You don’t want a raw flour taste to your sauce. That would be bad.
Slowly stream in the heated milk, whisking as you pour. Make sure the roux is incorporated well into the milk.
**Note: It’s important for the milk to be warmed before adding it to the hot pot because it’ll ensure that the sauce has no lumps but also because it’ll allow for the sauce to thicken and bubble faster.**
Allow the sauce to thicken, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom. You’ll know it’s thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon and you run a finger through it and it stays without running.
Remove the pot from the stove. We’re going to finish the last steps without the heat. Season the sauce with a bit of salt, pepper, paprika and freshly grated nutmeg.
**Tip: Only use freshly grated nutmeg for this. As an overall tip in general, I wouldn’t use ground nutmeg for anything. It think it’s too strong and easily overpowers everything. Freshly grated nutmeg is much more subtle and I think it actually tastes fresher. (Is fresher a word?) Anyhow, if you don’t have fresh nutmeg on hand, then I’d rather you not use nutmeg at all. Just omit it.**
Stir in the seasonings and then add freshly shredded pepper jack cheese and parmesan, reserving some for later. Just add a heaping amount of cheese because a cheesy sauce is a good sauce. You can quote me on that. Stir until the cheese has melted. The residual heat from the sauce will melt the cheese, don’t worry.
It’s time to add those veggies from earlier, the kale and artichoke and onion and garlic mixture. This is the part of the post where the cheese sauce becomes the kale and artichoke cheese sauce that later becomes the kale and artichoke dip which then becomes my pre-dinner snack which then becomes the “Why did I eat all the dip and not save any for my family?” Oops.
Portion out the dip into four large ramekins or you can just dump it into one large baking dish. This dip is about to be taken to the next level. Sprinkle it liberally with some of that reserved cheese, because there just isn’t enough cheese in this already. I think it needs more. Make it rain cheese. (Okay so I reused a joke. Sue me).
We’re just going to place this tray in a hot oven for a few minutes to get it bubbly hot and so that the cheese on top melts and gets crunchy and delicious, don’t mind us. Bake it for about 20 to 25 minutes, and broil the top for the last five minutes so that it gets super crunchy.
And just like that my life (and yours too) changed. It changed for the better because kale and artichoke dip is 100 times better than spinach and artichoke dip. I’m not picking favorites, but I’m totally picking favorites.
**Disclaimer: Wait a bit for the dip to cool before digging in. My boyfriend may or may not have burned the roof of his mouth because he couldn’t wait (like I told him to) and just dug right in. He’s still recovering from his dip-related injury.**
Serve it with an array of dippers like that garlic crostini we made earlier (you must include those). You can also do some of those fancy blue corn tortilla chips that all those crazy kids are into these days. If you want to go a little healthy because of the cheese and milk and cheese in this dip, then serve it with carrots, cucumber and bell pepper slices. But why go healthy when you can go the fun route? Live a little.
This is a great dip to enjoy outdoors on a picnic or in your backyard, while you’re relaxing by the pool (if you’re lucky enough to have a pool and if you do, then let me know so that I can go enjoy your pool too). It’s delicious paired with my Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria. I’m being a bad influence because it’s spring and I think you should enjoy a relaxing cocktail with a delicious snack because we all deserve it every now and then.
The best thing about this dip is that it’s perfect for parties. I have a reader (you know who you are) who has a house warming party coming up soon, and I think she should make this dip and a pitcher of sangria because it’ll make her party awesome (and delicious). I’m biased though, I’m supposed to say that. You can make this dip in advance, too. Just don’t bake it until right before your guests get there. It’s easy and stress free! Enjoy!
- 1 French baguette, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, whole
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (10 ounce) bag chopped kale
- 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet, in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Flip the bread over, halfway through baking. Once done, remove from the oven, and immediately rub the bread liberally with the three whole garlic cloves. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir in the onions and minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are soft and just beginning to caramelize. Add the kale, a handful at a time, stirring until it wilts down and it's all incorporated. Throw in the chopped artichoke hearts, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat the milk in a small sauce pot until it's warmed through. Do not boil. Place a pot over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Stir in the flour and mix, cooking for few seconds to develop a nutty flavor. Whisk in the heated milk and allow to cook, stirring constantly, until it has thickened. It should coat the back of a spoon. Season with the remaining salt and pepper, paprika and freshly grated nutmeg. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses, reserving a bit of each to top the dip with later. Fold in the kale and artichoke.
- Divide the dip into four ramekins or one large baking dish. Top with reserved cheese, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 375° F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve hot with the garlic bread and/or chips and veggies. Can be made a day in advance, stored in the fridge and baked right before serving. Enjoy!
- yield: about 4 cups