Sunday, April 16, 2017

Artichoke and Spinach Dip Pasta

In the summer of 1997 I was preparing to head off to college as a freshman. I was working in a restaurant, had met my future husband, and was living at the beach. I wore bikinis and used oil instead of sunscreen. I wasn't worried about sun damage. Or calories. Maybe that is why I also fell in love with spinach and artichoke dip. On nights off at the restaurant, Matthew and I would go out to eat and play tourist. We often ordered this dip as an appetizer. Sometimes, it came with tortilla chips and other times pita bread. We dated for the next five years and still ordered it almost every time we ate out, wherever we ate out. Fast forward a few years...Matthew and I married and were saving to buy our first house. Eating out wasn't as common and food trends shifted from spinach and artichoke dip to things like nachos and burger sliders. It didn't really dawn on me until recently that I haven't seen artichoke dip on a menu in a really long time. I decided to hunt for a recipe and make up a batch to take to a Super Bowl party this year. After all, enough time had passed that instead of being an over-done food everyone was tired of, this dip might just be a fun retro throwback.
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As I made this appetizer for the party, it hit me that it would make a great dinner...add some sauteed chicken and pasta, and you could totally get away with turning it into a meal! Or I just wanted an excuse to gorge myself with this and call it dinner. Either way, I decided to try it. It got a thumbs up from all members of my family and if it wasn't for the caloric intake that it provided, we'd add it to our weekly rotation. I am basing my recipe on the one I found on the NY Times but have made some changes to make it work as a pasta dish from a sauce.
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1 Box pasta (I used Gluten Free and it was just as tasty)
2-3 chicken breasts diced (can also used cooked chicken and add it in)
4 c spinach (or 1 12 oz. box frozen spinach, drained and chopped)
1 12 or 16 oz. can Artichoke hearts
4 oz. sour cream
3-4 tbsp. milk (more or less to think out the dip into a sauce. a splash of white wine would also do)
4 oz. fresh mozzarella
4 oz. fresh Parmesan
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
pinch sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

step 1: Heat olive oil and saute garlic until it smells wonderful and then add your spinach until it wilts.

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step 2: add artichoke hearts and heat through and toss in some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.. Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente.
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step 3: lower heat and add cheeses. stir until melted. Add sour cream and milk. While this is getting melty and heavenly, in another pan, saute chicken until golden brown and cooked through.
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step 4: decide if you want to mix the chicken, pasta, and dip in one pot and serve. OR...combine and toss into a casserole dish, top with additional cheese and bake. OR...put pasta on the plate, top with chicken, and then pour some dip on top. I went with that option.
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This is not diet cuisine. In fact, make a big salad and fill up on that first. This is really rich and decadent but so worth it! All three kids rated this a 9.5/10 and that alone makes it worthy of coming into the rotation!

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