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Live, Love, Eat!: Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Wolfgang Puck's version of the perennial favorite. Is his better than all the others out there?

Well...it's tasty, no doubt about that. But it's also restaurant-y, in that Puckish way I've come to know. The recipe calls for mayonnaise. Just like every other version of spinach-artichoke dip does. But then it also calls for mascarpone cheese. And crème fraîche. And goat cheese. But only little bits of those things: a third of a cup here, a couple of tablespoons there. In Puck's restaurants, no doubt there are multiple uses for mascarpone and crème fraîche and goat cheese, so a few tablespoons are easy to find. But when you're cooking at home, it's likely that you'll have to go and buy all of these things. So then you've got about two-thirds of a container of crème fraîche, ditto with the mascarpone, plus about 3 or 4 ounces of goat cheese...now you need to find another recipe to use all this stuff up!

If you're a dedicated cook who's in the kitchen every day, having these leftovers probably won't be a big deal for you. But if you're making this dip for a holiday party or bridal shower or birthday, it's kind of a drag to have to pay for three different dairy products that you might not end up using for anything else. Especially since this dip doesn't taste all that different from a dip that's made with just mayonnaise and sour cream. Puck's recipe is below, as is a simpler version. If you have the inclination (and maybe you're going to be making tiramisú anyway), by all means give the Live, Love, Eat! version a try. But if you don't want to have leftover mascarpone, crème fraîche, and goat cheese, use the simpler recipe. They taste pretty much the same.

The simpler version also uses frozen chopped spinach, which eliminates the need for blanching fresh spinach that's required in Puck's recipe. I've also recommended fresh garlic as a substitute for the roasted garlic that Puck calls for. If you have roasted garlic on hand or are going to make it for another recipe, go ahead and use it. But I don't think it's necessary to roast an entire head of garlic just to have a couple of tablespoons for the dip. Fresh garlic will work just fine.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: about 6 to 8 appetizer servings

3 bunches of fresh spinach, thoroughly cleaned and stemmed, OR
3 packages (9 oz. each) baby spinach leaves
1 package (9 or 10 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp goat cheese
2 Tbsp roasted garlic (see note, above) OR 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. On the counter near the pot. place a large mixing bowl filled with ice water. Blanch the spinach, 1 package or bunch at a time, for about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer the spinach to the ice water. Repeat with the other two packages of spinach. Drain spinach in a colander, squeezing it with your hands to get all the water out.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the artichoke hearts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds. Add the mayonnaise, mascarpone, crème fraîche, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, goat cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until just combined, about 5 more seconds. Add the blanched spinach and pulse just until thoroughly blended. The dip should still have some texture. Spoon into a shallow 3- to 4-cup capacity baking dish.

Toss the remaining Parmesan with the bread crumbs and paprika. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the dip. Bake until dip is heated through and topping is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers for dipping.

Tried and True Spinach-Artichoke Dip , adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
13 to 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, drained, OR 10 oz. package frozen artichoke hearts, drained
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pulse artichoke hearts in a food processor until roughly chopped, about 5 seconds. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan, onions, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse for about 5 seconds. Add spinach and pulse to combine thoroughly, leaving some texture in the dip. Spoon into a shallow baking dish. Combine bread crumbs with olive oil and sprinkle on top of the dip. Bake until browned and heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers.



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