The spring-planted spinach is bolting. I needed a recipe that uses a fair amount of it and since we entertain now a bit more than in previous months, an appetizer recipe is helpful.
Oddly, I’d never made a spinach dip before. When I went looking for a recipe, I was amazed to see how many called for a soup mix to blend with cooked spinach and sour cream or cream cheese, and then called for serving it in a hollowed out round loaf of bread.
A recipe from the New York Times suggested a way to dodge around the soup mix but I didn’t like the mix of ingredients. So I riffed on the recipe, leaving out quite a few of them, used more spinach, and came up with this herby, green blend that reminds me a lot of home-made Boursin cheese.
And then I put it in a bowl.
I started with fresh spinach, but a package of frozen spinach would work every bit as well. If you start with fresh, steam it until it wilts down, then chop it and squeeze out the excess liquid. Off hand, I’d say not to worry about how much you have. If your dip isn’t as green as this recipe is, no problem. If you have more spinach, well, move over Popeye.
If you don’t have scallions, chop a small white or even red onion very finely.
I like sour cream, but you may wish to reduce the fat and use Greek yogurt instead, as the original recipe suggested. If I didn’t have sour cream or yogurt, I’d use plain goat cheese.
Once you have made this you will see how to tinker further. A little minced up red bell pepper, for instance, or perhaps a bit of chopped tarragon with the parsley and dill. Chopped chives instead of scallions. Or a dollop of mayonnaise with yogurt instead of sour cream, or a bit of rice vinegar instead of lemon juice.
This is crudites season. Or, as a friend of mine reports, instead of pronouncing it “crew-dee-tays,” her family says “crudd-ites.” Right now I have snap peas in the garden, and it won’t be long before I can pick cucumbers, green beans, broccoli and cherry tomatoes. For now, we’ll dip carrots, celery and cauliflower from the store into our spinach mix.
Big hint: if you blanch your cauliflower, broccoli and green beans their flavor really blooms.
Makes about 2.5-3 cups of dip
3-4 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped
½ cup sour cream, or thick yogurt
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup chopped dill, or a large bunch
3-4 sprigs parsley, off the stem, chopped
1 clove garlic
Juice of ½ small lemon
Zest of half a lemon
½ teaspoon salt
Several grinds of black pepper
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1½-2 cups cooked spinach, chopped and drained well
Put all the ingredients — except the spinach — into a food processor and puree until smooth. Scrape the sides down to make sure all is incorporated.
Add half the chopped spinach, pulsing to blend it in. Then add the rest, pulsing to blend. Or, you may prefer to fold it in by hand.
Chill for a while and serve.