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Friday, August 31, 2007

Artichoke Dip a la Natalya

Many things can be sources of inspiration, but nothing occasions accidental brilliance like necessity. That is how a "Eat Us Out of House and Home" party to consume perishables before my husband and I move to Africa became the inspiration for an outstanding artichoke dip. This dip features many of the traditional elements of classic artichoke dip, but with a few modifications that really elevate the essential taste of the artichoke, which can otherwise get lost in gooey dips. My take on this classic appetizer is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging #98, hosted this week by Kalyn's Kitchen.

After mixing together the available and essential elements of the dip, my good friend Natalya and I roamed the kitchen, sniffing spices and seeking inspiration to elevate the ordinary artichoke dip into something with just a bit more. I would like to tell you that we knew the slight nuttiness and melting properties of the Fontina cheese would make it more ideal than the traditional Parmesan. Truthfully, we had a block of Fontina left in the fridge, and no Parmesean in sight. But that necessity turned out to be a wonderful change that I will use every time I make artichoke dip in the future.

With that base established, our noses lead us to a combination of finely zested lemon, oregano, and cayenne pepper to accent the natural flavors of the cheese and artichoke. While this may not be the healthiest recipe posted on this site, it is a delicious and slightly unconventional recipe for a classic appetizer. As the highest seal of quality, our guests raved, people scraped the dish completely, and have put in advance requests to have it at our next party. Read on for the recipe...


8-10 oz artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
2 oz mozzarella cheese, finely shredded
1 C fontina cheese, finely shredded
1 Tbsp feta cheese, finely crumbled
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/3 C sour cream
2 heads of roasted garlic
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp dried oregano
~1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop artichoke hearts, and squeeze to remove excess water.

To roast garlic heads: slice the top off each of the individual cloves in the head so they can breathe, place in small roasting pan, then drizzle with a little olive oil or chicken broth. Add 1 cm of water or broth to the pan, cover with aluminum foil, and roast for 50 min on 325 or until soft and fragrant.

Squeeze garlic into small baking dish, mix chopped artichokes, finely shredded mozzarella cheese, finely shredded fontina cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Zest approximately 1/3 of a lemon with a microplane zester. Add about half of the lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust to your taste (zest and cayenne can vary in strength, and you don't want to overdo it).

Mix well. If you want to serve warm, bake at 350 for approx 20 minutes. I recommend serving this on thin slices of rye bread, with an assortment of crackers, or on slices of fresh red and yellow pepper.

Makes 25 appetizer servings. Nutritional Information (per serving, based on using part skim mozzarella cheese and light sour cream): 52 calories, 3.9 g fat, 95 mg sodium, 0.5 g fiber


Kalyn said...

I think this sounds wonderful. BTW, I've very jealous that you're going to Africa for so long. I love African Art, and I'd love to go there! I've been to Morocco, but that's it so far.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I just had artichoke dip last night at my aunt's house! You just can't go wrong!

Have a wonderful trip!

Katerina said...

This sounds fabulous! I wish there was a picture, how can you go wrong with an artichoke dip. Sometimes the best combinations come out of chance and what you happen to have on hand. I am glad you had the fontina!

The Skinny Gourmet said...

Thanks ladies! Actually katerina, there ARE photos, but my husband, in his zeal to get our stuff packed away for Ghana, packed the camera (with my photos) away out of reach. I'll try to upload some photos but I wont have access to the camera until just before we get to Ghana sadly.

Thanks for the well-wishes on the trip.

Cate said...

Oh man, does that sound deliciously divine.

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