When my boyfriend proclaimed the other day that he had an odd hankering for spinach dip, I jumped on the opportunity to make a spinach and artichoke dip. I browsed several online recipes for inspiration, mostly to make sure I didn't forget any essential ingredients and noticed many recipes called for mayo.
Why I Don't Use Store-Bought Mayo in Spinach Artichoke Dip (And Other Stuff)
It's no secret that I'm a mustard gal. Mayo serves a purpose, but it's not something I particularly cherish or crave. Especially when I can't get a ready-made jar with decent ingredients. All the store-bought bottles are made with either soybean or canola oil.
Don't let the "extra virgin olive oil" on the front label fool ya. They might add a splash or two of olive oil, but the rest is inexpensive, genetically modified (GMO) oil.
Even though I generally follow the 80/20 rule or heck 70/30 (stress caused by eating is no good), there are certain ingredients I make a point of avoiding when I can. GMO oils are one of them. For this reason, I typically forgo mayonnaise. Someday soon I'll use my stand mixer or immersion blender to make it homemade with olive oil.
Update: I've since then found a high-quality mayo that's made with avocado oil and that's what I love to use now for dishes like chicken salad and blue cheese dressing when mayo is required. :)
Sour Cream to the Rescue
Until then, I'll rely on my favorite substitute for mayonnaise: sour cream.
Thick, full-fat sour cream.
I don't purchase low-fat or fat-free products anymore. Without the fat, your body can't absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the foods (like dairy) and when the fat is stripped out, over-processed filler ingredients are usually added back in so it tastes edible.
I'd much rather have a flavorful dish sans the additives and indulge in moderation...or not!
A Healthier Spinach and Artichoke Dip Without Sacrificing Flavor
But at the same time, I didn't want the spinach and artichoke dip to put me into a cheese coma, so I fiddled with the ratios until the veggies and cheese were closer to equal proportions.
I also used neufchâtel cheese instead of regular cream cheese, which reduced the calories and fat slightly without the use of uber-processed ingredients. Goat cheese would work well although it'd create a tangier spinach and artichoke dip.
In the end, the dip turned out delicious.
Creamy, cheesy, tangy and savory all in one.
My boyfriend and I polished it off with tortilla chips and didn't fall into a food coma afterward. That's always a bonus after digging into comfort food.
Notes & Tips
- If your cast-iron skillet is small enough, you can add the cheese mixture to the spinach, top with more cheese and bake the spinach and artichoke dip in it.
- You can substitute frozen spinach instead of fresh. Simply thaw and squeeze the spinach well to remove all excess water.
- The spinach and artichoke mixture can be made a few days beforehand and kept in the fridge until ready to bake. I haven't tried it yet, but I believe you can freeze it, as well. So, if you want to make a double or triple batch and freeze portions for later, that should work fine.
- The dip still tastes good reheated but is best fresh out of the oven.
- If you're serving a crowd, double or triple the recipe and use a larger baking dish.
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