I follow blogger Shared Skillet and find her recipes useful as I too am living in a “mixed” family in that I am the sole vegan amidst omnivores who don’t mind eating strictly vegan meals a surprising amount of the time but who are not interested in giving up meat, eggs, and cheese. In January, a recipe for Smoked Spinach and Artichoke dip was posted on Shared Skillet’s blog and I read the recipe as just that: smoked spinach and artichoke dip.
How does one smoke spinach? I wondered. Does the spinach get crispy like when making kale chips? Wouldn’t that be a weird texture? Would the spinach stay crispy once the other ingredients were added? Didn’t I read somewhere that spinach is referred to as ditch weed? Ha Ha. Smoked weed. Especially apropos as I live in Colorado. And that, my friends, is how a blog post title is born.
In answer to my most pressing question, no; spinach is not synonymous with ditch weed. According to Wikipedia, wild spinach is wild spinach and feral cannabis is ditch weed. In answer to all my other questions, I found it helpful to actually read the recipe. It isn’t the spinach that’s smoked: “smoked” refers to the type of cashew cheese used.
I recently found myself with artichokes I needed to use and remembered the recipe. I had enough ingredients on hand that, while I didn’t exactly follow the recipe, I didn’t make any weird substitutions. The only big substitution I made was Heidi Ho brand smoked chia cheese for the Miyoko’s Kitchen High Sierra Rustic Alpine cheese because Heidi Ho was on sale and Miyoko’s Kitchen wasn’t. I used a package of frozen spinach instead of fresh and my artichokes were jarred rather than canned. No worries: I borrowed my parents’ food scale and weighed out 14 oz of artichokes.
The recipe calls for olive oil and I don’t use oil to cook so I wasn’t vigorous when squeezing the water out of the defrosted spinach in hopes it wouldn’t stick when cooking. The little bit of water and medium low heat was all I needed.
I wish I could say leaving out the olive oil makes this dip a healthy treat but it doesn’t. A cup of vegan mayo and the entire package of chia cheese made this dip as rich and creamy as any I ever ordered as an appetizer in my pre-vegan days. I admit that, while it was cooking, I wondered if it was something I was going to be interested in eating…
…but then the smells hit me and I started salivating. When all the ingredients had heated through I could hardly wait to spoon some into a dish and set to. The recipe suggests eating the dip with crusty bread which I would have done if I hadn’t eaten the bread I had with spaghetti earlier in the week. I did have some Tres Madres purple corn chips-non GMO thank you very much-which I figured would do just as well.
I was not disappointed. The dip is rich, creamy, and I could taste both the sweet and smoky flavor of the paprika. My version might be a bit too smoky with the cheese I used as well as including a full cup of nutritional yeast. I probably could have used a bit less nutritional yeast as the smoked flavor of this dip did hit me in the back of the throat. I don’t mind strong flavors though and now my only question is; how am I going to avoid eating the entire pan by myself?