Friday, August 8, 2014

Hot Greens Dip

Make this unholy mixture of healthy greens and molten cheese with whatever greens you feel like you “should” be eating for their healthful properties: kale, chard, spinach, broccoli greens, Chinese broccoli, radish greens, and so on. Go ahead and turn it into something you’ll actually like: this is a delicious, warm and satisfying dip to be slathered on French bread slices or eaten with tortilla chips. I make this with far more greens than any other spinach-and-artichoke type recipe calls for. Just keep packing the greens into this dip until it almost feels righteous.

The recipe this is based on called for water chestnuts, but lacking and not really liking those, I just added more greens. You could include canned water chestnuts or artichokes if you’d like, but I didn’t think it needed anything other than the greens, cheese, and – perhaps most importantly – almost carmelized onions. The choice of cheese is up to you, just aim for about 1 cup shredded; I went with half parmesan and half cheddar, but use whatever cheese flavor you find appealing. A stronger flavored cheese would also go nicely here, as long as you want it to shine through and speak to the eater.

Note that this doesn’t make the prettiest dip, and the oil you used to cook the onions and greens may separate from the dip and pool unattractively at the edges of the serving bowl. After noticing this, I decanted off the separated oil as much as possible and re-staged the dip in a new bowl before serving to company. Stir just before serving and it looks presentable, if not frameable. The presentation has no bearing on the taste…it tastes amazing. Pat yourself on the back for eating your greens.
Cooking the greens.

Adapted from here
Makes 1 large bowl of dip

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale + 1 bunch chard + 1 bunch spinach, cut into small ribbons
(Or any combination of greens, just use a lot. Chard is nice because the stems should be chopped like celery and included in the dish; with kale, discard the tough stems.)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or milk)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheese (half parmesan, half cheddar; or any combination of cheeses. All parmesan is fine)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and reduce heat to medium-low to prevent burning the onions. Cook until onions go translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and greens. If using chard, include the chopped stems now. Cook until greens are soft and wilted, about 5 minutes; for chard and spinach, this takes less time, but if using tougher kale in the mix, go a little longer.

Remove pan from heat and quickly add the yogurt, mayonnaise, and cream cheese, stirring to prevent burning until the mixture cools down. Return to heat and add the cup of shredded cheese, stirring. Cook over low heat until the cheese has melted. Add salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, to taste. Serve with slices of French bread, crackers, pretzel thins, or tortilla chips. If the oil separates, pour off the oil using a slotted spoon to hold back the dip, and transfer dip to a fresh container for serving. Stir again before serving.

For a large party or potluck, this makes the perfect amount of dip to serve, but for a small dinner, this is too much quantity (it’s rich). I split it in half to bring to a dinner for four, and froze the other half. To defrost, I just microwaved it, but even better would be to put it in an oven-safe dish and bake in the oven until warmed through, perhaps with a layer of breadcrumbs or new cheese on top.
OK, it's not the prettiest. But it is GOOD.