Spinach dip is a fun party food that can be served either as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. Traditionally speaking an appetizer stimulates the appetite and prepares the senses for the main meal. Hors d'oeuvres on the other hand are more of an “outside the meal” snack, usually enjoyed at functions like cocktail parties. This dip is also a great opportunity to introduce vegetables to children so that they will have a positive attitude toward them.
There are various ingredients used in addition to spinach in a spinach dip recipe. It is served hot and has a thick consistency in order to be used as a dip with your favorite accompaniment. Many prefer using deep-fried or baked corn tortillas for dipping. Others enjoy crackers or wedges of French, sourdough or focaccia bread. The center of a round loaf of sourdough can be removed for dipping and the spinach dip can be presented inside the hollowed loaf.
A typical recipe for spinach dip calls for steaming spinach while lightly sautéing garlic and shallots in olive oil, then blending the ingredients together to a smooth pulp. Once the blending is complete, cream cheese is blended into the mixture. At this point it is heated in a double boiler and Parmesan cheese is melted into it. At the end, salt and pepper are added to taste. The spinach dip should continue to be heated until it is a thick, rich sauce.
There are many variations to the basic recipe. Artichoke hearts or Jerusalem artichokes compliment the taste of the spinach nicely. Crabmeat or bacon can be included for unique flavors. In addition to cream cheese; cheddar, cottage, Gouda, jack, mozzarella, Romano, or Velveeta® cheese can be included. Cream, mayonnaise or sour cream can be substituted for a lighter texture.
Creative cooks can investigate adding basil, dried cranberries, onion soup mix, salsa or water chestnuts to create a special signature dish. Red wine vinegar also adds a nice touch to the spinach dip. This dipping sauce can also be assembled and then baked in the oven until bubbling and lightly browned.
Oftentimes, frozen spinach is used for convenience. However, fresh spinach is an excellent way to include a healthy dish of fresh greens. Therefore, if time is not a factor, fresh spinach is the preference.
Garnishes of cranberries, red peppers, rosemary or yellow tomatoes add a festive touch. If light breads are used for your spinach dip, you may offer skewers or fondue forks for dipping. If your spinach dip is prepared with a thinner consistency, it can be chilled and served cold.