I love spinach and artichoke dip. However, there has always been something about the clumps of molten cream cheese and mayo that gives me the heebee jeebies. Almost all the recipes I’ve ever made or seen call for a belt busting combination of cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. Not exactly health food. Versions that lighten it up usually call for low or no-fat products like fat free sour cream or fat free mayonnaise, and those tend to be heavily processed (and taste icky too).
Spinach and Artichoke dip has so much potential too. Not that it tries to be healthy, but with all the spinach and artichoke in it, its a shame that it isn’t just a tad more trim. I was thinking about ways to trim it down the other day as I tossed a brick of the Trader Joe’s Spinach and Artichoke dip in the microwave. I’ve actually always liked Trader Joe’s milder-than-most version. While it was heating up, I noticed that it wasn’t all that fattening. I looked at the ingredient list and figured out that it had no cream cheese, no sour cream and no mayonnaise in it. Ah ha! I just had to make a version like Trader Joe’s!
My version is more like fondue than the molten cream cheese/mayo versions. In place of the cream cheese, it contains a combination of Gruyere, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Running a chip through my version will produce long strings of cheese that will keep everyone coming back again and again. While not diet food, it is trimmer than the traditional versions without the processed low-fat ingredients. I think it tastes better too. You can cook it unfrozen in the oven, or straight from the freezer in a microwave. I like both versions, but actually prefer the microwave version because the mozzarella cooks into the sauce creating even more cheesiness instead of forming the brown crust on top.
The recipe is very easy. It’s a simple Bechamel sauce which you fold all the ingredients into. You can portion the dip into any size oven-safe container, then bake it to serve immediately, refrigerate it for up to a day in advance, or freeze it for a month or two.
I portion the dip into small stoneware bowls and freeze them, and then I can toss one in the microwave for an instant party hit. Enjoy!
Want to make your own chips for the party? Cooking Light has a basic and very simple recipe for making your own pita chips that go very well with this dip. Check it out!