Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke Dip

What are you eating on Super Bowl Sunday?  My answer is (usually) a lot.

20140131-194900.jpgLet’s get a little more specific. How about something warm, cheesy and spicy and still have some healthy stuff in it?  Then you will LOVE this Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip!

20140131-194828.jpgI’m not the biggest football fan, but I do LOVE an excuse to eat snacks and hang out with friends! Bring on the football!

20140131-194847.jpgThis recipe is a spinoff of your typical spinach artichoke dip, but it has a few extras in it that really make it special.  Lets go over the major players in our game:

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Canned artichoke hearts
  4. Cream cheese (sounds unusual, but totally delicious)
  5. Greek yogurt (adds that extra creaminess!)
  6. Mozzarella
  7. Parmesan
  8. Garlic (because everything is better with it)

It is easy to assemble (all in one bowl), pop it in the oven and you have your warm and creamy dip in 25 minutes!  I know cream cheese sounds a little unusual but you won’t taste any cream cheese flavor (I promise!); it will just add creaminess.

20140131-231211.jpgThis dip will fit nicely in an 8×8 or 9×9 but I got a really awesome Le Creuset stoneware dish (1.75 qt) for Christmas that I really really really wanted to bake something in. It’s a really pretty blue color so it looks nice (it really does!) and it is heavy so it keeps food hot longer.   It’s amazing and I love it! – thanks Ro and Nancy! 

20140131-194934.jpgSprinkling some extra cheese on top – Mmmmm melty cheese!

20140131-194945.jpgDid I mention I snuck extra veggies in this dip? You get spinach, artichoke AND broccoli!

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What a beaut, right? Most of my kitchen stuff is hand-me-down or picked up at garage sales – so I really wanted to flaunt my fancy new baking dish! 🙂

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But most importantly is the warm, cheesy, creamy and veggie-filled dip that was made in the pretty dish!  Just another delicious way to get more vegetables in your diet!

Happy Snacking!

Recipe: Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke Dip

Yield: About 3 and 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 8oz of cream cheese, softened*
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 package (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup of broccoli, chopped small
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan- reserve a handful to melt on top
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided –  ¼ cup reserved to sprinkle and melt on top
  • salt, to taste
  • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl stir the softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt together until smooth.  Then add in the remaining ingredients and mix together. Spoon into 8×8 or 9 inch pie plate or oven safe dish. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Remove and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and bake for another 2-3 minutes just until cheese is melted.

Serve warm with pita chips, pretzels, crackers or veggies.

*If you want to soften the cream cheese quickly, place the fully unwrapped cream cheese in a microwave safe dish and microwave it for ~15 seconds.

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Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad

20130507-143829.jpgMay is National Salad Month! That’s right, salad gets a whole month to itself to celebrate how awesome it is.  Mother’s Day is also coming up and it’s about time I start sharing stories about the inspiration for all my culinary adventures and the person who taught me how to cook: my mom. Well, I’m kicking off National Salad Month with a non-traditional salad: Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad.  Although this recipe is not one that my mom has shared with me, my mom loves fresh parsley, so I think she would like this salad too. Parsley is a significant part of this dish, and whenever I smell fresh parsley, it reminds me of times in the kitchen with mom, making pasta sauce for Sunday “dinner”.  Being Italian, this dinner would take place at 2pm.  If you’re not Italian, this time probably sounds strange.  If you are Italian, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Of COURSE you eat dinner at 2pm on Sundays. Dinner also consisted of pasta and 5ish other courses. It was quite an event.  I miss it.  Being the little piglet that I was growing up, I LOVED Sundays.

20130507-144025.jpgOk.  Back to the superstar: Parsley.  One of my jobs as a little kitchen helper was to pluck the leaves off the parsley bunch so my mom could put it in the chopper to add to the red sauce (called gravy in our family).  My mom always liked to put extra parsley on her pasta.  She also adds fresh parsley to meatballs, chicken soup, stuffing for peppers and probably a ton of other things that I never realized.  So, Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  Here’s another recipe you can load up with parsley!

20130507-144127.jpgThis salad screams Spring to me.  Fresh parsley gives the salad a bright taste, that is crisp and refreshing.  It makes a great side dish to grilled burgers, steak or chicken.  It is also good on its own, and you can add some cannellini beans to it to spike it with a little protein if you want it as a main meal. What is so great about this salad??   It’s versatility.  This salad is delicious hot OR cold.  Another bonus: The Baby Bella mushrooms used in this dish are so flavorful and meaty, you will hardly notice there is no meat in this salad. Also, just like all of my recipes, this dish is easy to make and takes the amount of time it takes to boil pasta.  So what are you waiting for?!! Make some orzo salad!

20130507-143846.jpgThose are some good lookin’ mushrooms.  I know a lot of people don’t like mushrooms, but really, I beg you to try baby bella mushrooms.  Baby bella mushrooms, also known as cimini, are just young portobella mushrooms. They have a subtle taste and a meaty texture.  Baby bella mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, B vitamins and potassium.

Alright, enough with the nutritional lecture.  Let’s make some Orzo Salad!

Dice up some onion and garlic and place in a large pan on medium heat and saute with some olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to your onions/garlic.

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Slice up the mushrooms and add them to the sizzling onions and garlic in the pan.  Cook mushrooms with onions and garlic for about 7-10 minutes.  Onions should be soft and translucent.

20130507-143900.jpgMake sure you use a large enough pan.  Your mushrooms need space! Don’t crowd the mushrooms.  If you like a little kick to your salad, put in a touch of crushed red pepper flakes to the mushrooms.   While your mushrooms are cooking down, cook your orzo pasta in salty water.  I had some extra broccoli in the house, so I added this to just warm up in the pan with the mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes. ***I LOVE my cast iron pan.  I cook almost EVERYTHING in this pan and it only cost me about $20 at a big box store (Kmart/target/walmart)  It is a an essential cooking tool in my kitchen.

20130507-144036.jpgNext, prep that parsley! I usually buy flat leaf parsley, but you can use curly parsley if you like. Grab a really good handful of the washed leaves and give them a good rough chop, and set aside. The dish’s superstar is now ready! When the orzo is cooked al dente, (or how you like your pasta – just don’t make it mushy) drain the pasta, and save about 1/4 cup of the cooking water. DO NOT RINSE the orzo.  You want the starch to stay on the pasta.  Then place orzo in the pan with the cooking mushrooms and toss together.  You could also instead add the veggies to the orzo pot, if doing this or if you are not tossing the orzo directly with the veggies, drizzle a little olive oil over the orzo to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

20130507-143942.jpgAfter the pasta and veggies are well mixed, toss in all the delicious parsley and mix some more.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  If your salad is a little dry, you can add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water.

I love eating my orzo salad this way.  The best thing about orzo, is that it’s shape, lends itself to staying moist and not needing a sauce, but if you’re a person who can’t eat a salad without a dressing on top – you can drizzle a little garlic oil and a splash of lemon juice on top.  See below for my super easy garlic oil recipe!

Now DIG IN and ENJOY!

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Mmmm look at that veggie to pasta ratio!  Lots of veggies in there!

20130507-144050.jpgSo easy, so fast, so fresh!  A perfect spring dish!

Recipe: Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad  20130507-144140.jpg

Servings: 2

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil (this is an estimate, enough to just coat your pan)
  • ¼ cup of onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 baby bella (crimini) mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup of broccoli, chopped (optional – you can substitute in almost any vegetable here – tomato, roasted asparagus, red bell pepper)
  • ½ cup of uncooked orzo, cook in salty water per instructions on box
  • ½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (about a large handful)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, boil salty water for orzo*
  2. Coat a large pan (I use a cast iron pan) with olive oil and warm on medium heat.  As the pan is still warming, add onions and garlic.  Cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms to the same pan, and cook for about 7 minutes, until onions are translucent and mushrooms are soft.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to onions/garlic and mushrooms as they are cooking
  4. Add the broccoli and cook just until warm, about 2 minutes.  You want your broccoli to add some crunch
  5. While your veggies are cooking, add orzo to boiling, salty water (or chicken stock) and cook per instructions on your pasta box (about 10 minutes)
  6. Drain orzo and reserve ~ 1/4 cup of cooking water – DO NOT rinse your pasta, you will lose the moistness,
  7. Immediately toss the orzo and veggies together –if needed, add a little pasta water to moisten it up.  Add in parsley and mix until combined. **
  8. Add some salt and pepper to taste

ENJOY!

* I stress the salty water here because you are not putting a sauce on the orzo, thus, the only time you have to flavor the pasta at all is during the cooking process in the water.  You can also cook your orzo in chicken stock.  That will give the pasta a very good flavor.

** If not tossing immediately with the veggies, drizzle a little olive oil on the orzo after draining and stir to prevent orzo from clumping.  You can also just add a little pasta water to moisten up.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.com

Bonus Recipe!

Easy Quick Garlic Oil

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  1. In a small saucepan, slowly warm up the oil to a simmer with the garlic cloves
  2. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5-10 minutes – until garlic is lightly browned – careful, so it does not burn
  3. Remove from heat and let cool
  4. Remove garlic and save for later (To spread on bread)
  5. Drizzle oil over anything!

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Hearty Healthy Broccoli Soup

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I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in Boston, Spring is taking its sweet time to get here. One advantage of this extended “post winter” season is that it is still soup weather! Recently, broccoli went on sale for $0.99/lb. THIS NEVER HAPPENS at grocery stores by me. NEVER. I don’t think I can emphasize how rare this is. I took advantage of this amazing sale and bought a TON of fresh broccoli crowns, with no particular recipes in mind. Now I have a ton of broccoli and it is 35 degrees outside and cold pelting rain in April. Of course. I wanted soup. But not just vegetable soup, I wanted something hearty. I turned to my gajillion broccoli crowns and thought I would make a nice creamy broccoli soup. There was only one problem. I had no cheddar cheese and no cream. Boo.

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Suddenly, my craving for creamy broccoli soup became a little challenge. What ingredients in my cabinet would make a healthy, hearty and creamy soup? The answer: cannellini beans. These beans are soft and don’t have a very strong flavor, which is perfect for this soup. Another bonus of cannellini beans: they add fiber and protein to the soup, making it much more filling and less caloric than a typical creamy broccoli soup. The other secret ingredient in the soup is an apple. I know, I know, this sounds weird, but I swear, the sweetness of the apple balances out the slightly bitter broccoli and adds another delicious dimension to this quick and easy soup. MMmmm MMmmm.

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How do you make this soup in a DASH?

In a large pot, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set the burner on low-medium heat. Add the diced sweet onion, garlic and diced apples to the pot.

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A little more about the apple addition: Make sure you peel the apple. The peel, although delicious and nutritious, does not blend well, (unless you have a super powerful blender, which I don’t). So if you leave the peal on, you’ll have pieces of peal in your soup. Not horrible, but not the best texture. As for choice of apple, a sweet, soft apple is probably your best choice, such as a macintosh or golden delicious, however, any apple will do. This is a great opportunity to use an apple that has seen better days, the softer and sweeter the apple, the better. I’m not suggesting you use a rotten apple, but just know it doesn’t have to be one of those picture perfect apples. Since you only need about half of the apple, you can cut off the bruised parts and still have plenty of apple for the soup.

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Sauté the onions, garlic and apple till the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the broccoli and the chicken stock. You can use vegetable stock here, too. Cover the pot and simmer until the broccoli is soft enough to blend. Don’t overcook the broccoli or your soup will be a really ugly color, devastating, I know.

ImageAfter broccoli is tender, remove from heat and blend until smooth. I used a hand immersion blender, because that is all I have, but you can use a regular blender. Next I add the beans and cook them for about 2 minutes, just to warm them up. They are already pretty soft and should blend easily. My blender is pretty wimpy, but if you have a more powerful blender, you can probably blend the broccoli and beans all in one step.

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Finally, after everything is blended, add the milk, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes and just warm the soup on low. Do not boil.

Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or some shredded cheese and Enjoy!

ImageGo ahead, enjoy it with some cheese AND some tasty bread. Remember, this soup is filled with super healthy stuff! Beans, broccoli and apple!

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Recipe

Hearty Healthy Broccoli SoupImage

Makes 2 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ of sweet onion, diced ( you can also use a white or yellow onion – use half of the onion if it is small)
  • ½ of a medium-sized apple, peeled and diced
  • 1.5 cups of broccoli (about 1 crown)
  • 1 14oz can of chicken stock
  • ½ of a 15oz can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed
  • ½ cup milk (I used 1%)
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your affinity for heat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Saute onion, garlic and apple on low-med heat in a heavy saucepan/pot (see pic). Cook about 5 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent

2. Add broccoli and sauté for about a minute with onion and garlic

3. Add chicken stock to the pot. Simmer, covered, until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Remove pot from heat and puree soup. I used an immersion blender – but you can use a regular blender or food processor. *if you scaled up the recipe you may have to do this in batches.

5. After broccoli is pureed, add beans.

6. Puree beans into the soup – this will puree faster than the broccoli

7. Add milk, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and heat soup on low – just till warm, DO NOT boil.

8. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, or grated Parmesan (all optional). Enjoy with some tasty bread or crackers.

Additional ideas for this soup:

Once I added too much broccoli to this soup, so my broccoli to liquid ratio was too high. It was a very thick soup. Instead of adding more stock to thin it it out, I poured it over pasta and topped it with fresh parsley and a generous helping of Parmesan cheese. This measurement mistake turned out to be a hit. It made a delicious creamy pasta sauce.

: )

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

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