Artichoke dip is a creamy spread made with artichoke hearts, a cream dressing, and cheese. It is typically offered along with appetizers at a party, with guests dipping bread, crackers, or vegetables into the dip. Artichoke dip can also be used as a side or condiment to pair with various roasted meats, or a spread in sandwiches and wraps.
To make basic artichoke dip, cooks combine artichoke hearts with mayonnaise, grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. The goal is to use just enough mayonnaise to pull the dip together into a creamy blend, and not enough to make the dip heavy or greasy. Depending on the cook's taste, the artichoke hearts may be chopped for a coarse dip, or run through a blender for a more creamy, smooth dip.
There are a number of variations on artichoke dip. The above recipe can be heated in the microwave or oven to make a hot dip, for example. Whole artichoke hearts can be baked in a creamy blend of yogurt and cheese until they soften and the baked dip develops a golden crust for a more luxurious version of artichoke dip, and the dip can also include add-ons like paprika, baked eggplant, roasted red peppers, spinach, crab meat, and so forth.
For cooks who do not like to work with mayonnaise, artichoke dip can be made with plain yogurt, sour cream, or a cheese and milk blend which has been processed into a thick cream. Pretty much any soft cheese can be used, from cream cheese to blue cheese, and a hard cheese may also be grated into the dip for more texture. Crunchy items like pickles, olives, and so forth may also be included in this dip. The flavor of the artichokes should still be allowed to shine through, however, as they are the focal point of this spread.
As a general rule, less is more with artichoke dip. If cooks want to add extra ingredients, they should only add one to two, so that the dip does not become overwhelmed with the extra flavors. If the artichoke dip is naturally low in acidity, as is the case with a mayonnaise-based dip, it should also be refrigerated, so that it does not begin to harbor bacteria.