Monday, September 28, 2009

Recipe: Vivian's Spinach Dip From Scratch

This recipe came about because I wanted to make spinach dip for a barbecue. Spinach dip is usually made with dried soup, but after I bought a packet, I read the ingredients, which I've gotten into the habit of doing these days, and was put off by the presence of monosodium glutamate, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate and sulfites. (For more information on some of these chemicals, see my earlier blog entry on food additives.)

I decided it would be an interesting challenge to create my own, soup-mix-free dip. And here it is. You can replace the goat yoghurt with standard cow yoghurt or the more traditional sour cream, but I find that the goat yoghurt imparts an unusual and delicious flavour to the dip. It is also easier to digest (for humans, that is) than cow dairy and lower in fat than sour cream.

  • 1 1/4 cup goat yoghurt (or 1 cup thick sour cream)
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or put through press
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 oz water chestnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 1 large round bread (optional)

Line a colander with cheese cloth and put the yoghurt into it. Place the colander in the sink or a bowl and leave for an hour to strain. If you are using thick sour cream, skip this step.

If you are using fresh spinach, tear off stems (unless it's baby spinach, in which case you can get away with leaving the stems on). Wash and leave some of the water on. Cook until wilted--a couple of minutes on the stove top, or ten to fifteen minutes in a preheated solar oven*. If you're using frozen spinach, thaw. Either way, squeeze out excess water and chop.

Mix the sour cream and mayonnaise together in a bowl. Add garlic, onion, red pepper, water chestnuts, salt and pepper and mix well. Blend spinach into mixture. Chill for a couple of hours.

If you are using a bread bowl, prepare it just before serving so the bread won't get soggy. Slice the top off and cut or scoop out the inside, leaving walls of reasonable thickness, at least an inch I'd say. Spoon dip into hollowed-out bread. Cut up the leftover bread (from the top and inside) to use for dipping.

If you're not using a bread bowl, serve the dip in an ordinary bowl with tortilla chips, crackers, pita chips, toast points or... anything you want, really.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think by posting a comment. If you think the version with dried soup in it is better, feel free to let me know that too.

*We bought a solar oven this summer. I am thoroughly enamoured of it and yes, I used it to cook the spinach for this dip. The brand we bought is Sun Oven, but as that's the only type of solar oven I've ever used, I'm not going to advocate it over other brands. The Sport Solar Oven looks good too. It is more basic as well as cheaper, and the reflector is sold separately. If you want to make your own solar oven, you can find oodles of directions on the Internet.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to try that dip! Thanks for the recipe!

Vivian said...

You're welcome! Hope you like it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I used your recipe but instead of red peppers I roasted and peeled green peppers. I roasted and used a few cloves of garlic too. Rest is the same. Who knew that goat yogurt works so great for this recipe!

Dawn said...

Made this for Christmas and as it is, it is a little bland. I added made it a day ahead so the flavors could meld, tasted it this morning and wasn't quite happy with it. I added more salt, pepper, a healthy bit of cayenne, juice of 1/2 lemon to brighten it up, and about a teaspoon or so of Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute. Now it is perfect. Thanks a million, because I can't eat the Knorr soup mix at all, because of the MSG.

Katrina said...

I am very sensitive to MSG in my pregnancy, so I was looking for a way to make this dip without using the soup mix. Thanks for experimenting with this already! I made it as you directed but thought it needed at least double the salt, and added dill weed and garlic salt to taste as well. I think it would also be good with green onions. Yummy!

Vivian said...

Thanks for the feedback. I don't know if you can get Trader Joe's spice mix in Canada. I think you can't get anything Trader Joe's in Canada.

Michelle said...

Wonderful recipe! I'm not normally a fan of spinach dip, so when I was asked to make some for a party I wanted to try something other than the soup packet. I can now tell you I am a fan of spinach dip. This recipe is delicious! Can't wait for an excuse to make it again. Thank you!

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