spinach and baby artichoke spread (bookmarked recipe)

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summary: recipe for spinach artichoke goat cheese spread; information about Bookmarked Recipes; (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

Bookmarked Recipes - every MondayBookmarked Recipes #47

artichokes Not long ago, T brought home a rather large tray of baby artichokes that our vegetable store was selling for $1 a tray. I think there were about 10 artichokes on the tray.

I love these baby artichokes.

There’s no choke, of course, so all that needs to be done is to remove the spiny tops of the outer leaves. And because they aren’t much longer than 2 inches, they take virtually no time to cook. Only the thinnest layer of the outer leaves was too tough to eat. The inside of each artichoke was entirely edible!

artichokes We had artichokes with blue cheese mayonnaise, artichokes with Hollandaise, artichokes on pizza. How happy were we?!

We went back to the vegetable store and got another tray of artichokes…

And then I remembered that at a party last Christmas, I tasted the most fabulous artichoke spinach squares. I embarrassed myself by refusing to move from the buffet table and eating several squares. After being forcibly removed to another part of the room, I begged for the recipe, which was sent via email very soon afterward. And I kept meaning to make them. Really, I did!

A short time ago, Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups) reminded me again when she posted her recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Dip. The two recipes were quite similar; the only real difference is that Tanna’s calls for yoghurt rather than the egg in Josephine’s squares.

Both Tanna’s and Josephine’s recipes call for jarred artichoke hearts. So I added some olive oil and lemon juice to our steamed fresh baby artichokes to mimic the flavour. (Drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice on the artichokes just after they’re cooked and they absorb it entirely – making them virtually the same as jarred artichoke hearts.)

artichoke spread This spinach artichoke spread is wonderful! The first night I made it, using a couple of fresh baby artichokes and two cloves of garlic, it was supposed to last for two nights. But someone who shall remain nameless (her name begins with E) ate almost all of it! Goodness, how sad; I was forced to make more. :-)

Which was a good thing. It turned out that two cloves of garlic was too much. How can this be? Too much garlic?! Seems impossible, doesn’t it? But it’s true. The garlic virtually overpowered the delicate flavour of the artichoke.

For the next batch, I used just one small clove of garlic. And, when I tasted the result, I felt just a little like Goldilocks; there wasn’t quite enough garlic. Even so, it went very well with falafel.

Next time I make the spread, I’ll use one large clove of garlic. That should do the trick. And perhaps I’ll add a bit of onion and fresh oregano as Josephine does for her squares.

Oh my but this combination is good!

Here’s what I did to make it:

Spinach, Baby Artichoke, Goat Cheese Spread
based on Tanna’s spinach/artichoke dip and Josephine’s artichoke asiago squares

(I was just sort of winging it with the measurements so you may have to play with them)

  • ⅓ bunch of spinach leaves, washed, salted and squeezed dry (one handful when squeezed)
  • plain yogurt (1 Tbsp??), we use 3.2% MF
  • 70gm goat cheese, the creamy kind sold in tubes; ours is 20%MF 59%moisture
  • Ilha branca cheese, grated (¼ c??)*
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 baby artichokes, trimmed and steamed
  • splash lemon juice (½ tsp??)
  • splash olive oil (½ Tbsp??)

Preparation

  1. Wash the spinach well. Put washed spinach into a colander. Sprinkle with 1½ Tbsp salt. Toss to mix and set aside to drain for 20 minutes.**
  2. Squeeze out the spinach with your hands til it is quite dry. Discard juice. Let the spinach rest in colander for a few more minutes. Squeeze again. Do this 3 or 4 times in total. (The spinach may look like you’ve destroyed it.) On the 4th time, rinse the spinach well in cold water to get rid of all the extra salt. Squeeze out all the water. Taste to be sure there’s no excessive salt. Set aside.
  3. Cut the tips off of the baby artichokes. Peel the stems and pull off any discoloured leaves.
  4. Steam the artichokes for about 10 minutes til the stem area is fork tender.*** Drain and set aside.
  5. Peel away leaves until you get to ones that are completely tender all the way through. (Reserve the peeled leaves! ****)
  6. Chop spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic relatively finely – you can use a food processor but that makes everything uniform – I like having some pieces larger than others.
  7. Stir in cheeses and yoghurt and put the mixture into a small pyrex casserole dish. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes (til you can smell that the garlic is cooked).

Serve with pita triangles as a party food or with falafel for dinner.

Notes
* Both Tanna’s and Josephine’s recipes call for Asiago cheese. I suspect that any hard cheese would work. Josephine said that she used a combination of Asiago and aged cheddar because she ran out of Asiago.

** This is a great way to preserve spinach. It keeps in the fridge for several days without turning to mush. It’s great in lasagne, spinach pie, omelettes. Its biggest plus is because so much of the water has been squeezed out, it doesn’t add water to other dishes to make them soupy. It also keeps its beautiful green colour when cooked further, rather than turning an ugly grey-green.

*** I didn’t actually steam the artichokes but rested them in a small amount of boiling water in a lidded pot but I think it amounts to the same thing as steaming.

**** Reserve those peeled leaves to eat as another appetizer – to dip into a vinaigrette or blue cheese mayonnaise. Peel away any artichoke flesh of these outer leaves with your teeth.)

Because I wasn’t exactly sure about how much yoghurt to use, once it had cooled, the final result wasn’t nearly as soupy as Tanna’s so it wasn’t exactly a dip. Nor was it quite as firm (almost though) as Josephine’s. But who really cares about the consistency? It tasted great!

Thanks again Tanna and Josephine for this wonderful combination!

Bookmarked Recipes - every MondayBookmarked Recipes
Some time ago, Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked in various books, magazines and internet pages. This is now the 54th session for Bookmarked Recipes! (I think.) James Benson (Cotswold Food Year thecotswoldfoodyear.com) is hosting Bookmarked Recipes this week.

For complete details on how to participate, please read the following:

 

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  • Baby artichokes . . . wow really would love to find some of those in my kitchen. Really a great flavor combo. So happy to liked and were so inspired to play with it.

  • That sounds delicious! Thanks for sending it to the event!

  • Lisa

    In the month of May I must eat at least 100 baby artichokes. So many in fact that my children say “Oh no, not artichokes again!”
    Can’t wait to try this. I will do so immediately using canned artichokes although I don’t know where I will find branca cheese at Victoria Beach

    The first time that I tried this spread, it was Josephine’s version. She uses Asiago. But T isn’t wild about Asiago so we decided to use a different hard cheese. Can you get Parmesan cheese at VB, Lisa? Ilha Branca cheese is what we always have on hand to replace Parmesan. It’s WAY less expensive here and almost as good. -Elizabeth