Artichoke Dip

Makes approximately one 9 x 9″ baking dish

2 15-oz. cans artichoke hearts
1 4-oz. can diced jalapenos
1 7-oz. can diced green chilies
1/2 1 small sweet onion, diced
[1/2 zucchini, diced]
[1 15 oz. can black beans, drained]
[1 4 oz. can black olive slices]
[1/2 green bell pepper, diced]
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 heaping tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
[1 tsp black pepper]
1/2 1 tsp paprika
1 1 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 1 cup shredded 3-cheese blend
1 cup mayonnaise

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a pan, heat olive oil and add onion and garlic. Saute for one minute then add the bell pepper and zucchini. Continue to saute until onion is browned and slightly softened. Set aside.
  • Drain the artichokes, chilies, olives, beans, and jalapenos. Roughly chop the artichoke hearts. Add the artichokes, chilies, and jalapenos to a large mixing bowl with all other ingredients, including the onion and garlic. 
  • Mix thoroughly and pour into a cast iron skillet or 9 x 9 baking pan.
  • Cover the top of the dip with the 3-cheese blend.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot with chips or vegetables.

Since meeting Katja, my eating habits have improved a thousand times over. Gone are the dinners of ramen noodles, Fritos with bean dip, and cheese sandwiches. Instead, I get to enjoy a wide array of healthy, balanced meals, all expertly cooked. My own cooking has vastly improved as well, and I seldom resort to the kind of food roulette I once practiced (throw half the contents of the fridge in a pan, add some sort of sauce, and hopefully what comes out is edible). However, despite the upgrades in my culinary lifestyle, there are still some dishes that, after years of perfecting, I am loathe to abandon. These dishes are typically easy, delicious, and about as far from healthy as you can get. As a result, I save them for special occasions, then break them out with demented glee. Take, for example, artichoke dip.

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This artichoke dip is a recipe that I adapted from my mother, and is now my go-to dish for parties. It is easy to throw together, quick to heat up, and a relatively unique alternative to the typical salsa or seven layer bean dip. Done up right, the texture is just chunky enough to scoop on a chip, without being chewy. Flavor-wise, the garlic and spice are strong – enough for someone with a high tolerance like me – yet the potency is mellowed out by creamy artichoke and salty cheese. Of course, the dish contains enough mayonnaise and cheese to make even Paula Dean think twice, so adjust the portions accordingly if you don’t have a large group.

One of my favorite things about this dip (aside from garlic, cheese, more cheese, and garlic) is that it forms such a versatile base to experiment with. At one time or another, I have thrown in all kinds of extras, including sliced black olives, capers, beans, bacon, roasted Brussels sprouts, sautéed peppers and onions, and chicken. Each of these ingredients adds its own je ne sais quoi, which is about as fancy a way to describe a mayonnaise-based dish as creative license allows, I think. The basic recipe provides a launching point to explore these modifications on your own, but if you are looking for a recommendation to get started, I suggest adding equal parts black beans and olive slices.

Don’t forget that the chips or crackers you choose are just as important. Tortilla chips are always a smart choice, but there’s something to be said for gluten free multi-grain and/or jalapeno flavored crackers. Also note that, because of the mayo, this dish should not stay out on the counter for too long (less than 2 hours, per the USDA). In my experience, it gets eaten pretty quickly, so hopefully this won’t be a problem. If you do have leftovers, they can be put in the fridge and later reheated in the oven. Reheated artichoke dip by itself still tastes great, though I prefer to use it in other dishes. Put it in stuffed squash or slather it on a baked potato for a delicious side to your next night’s meal.

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Revised post

I’m not much of a sports fan. I have nothing against sports per se, I just don’t feel like devoting the time it would take to really get into a game (World Cup being the only exception). However, I am in favor of days devoted to cooking good food and lounging about. So when the Superbowl came along, with its ubiquitous grocery store displays pushing mountains of snack food, Katja and I jumped on the excuse to make a day of it. Of course, we had no intention of actually watching the game (we don’t have TV and couldn’t have cared less who won). We just wanted an excuse to eat.

I originally got this recipe for artichoke dip from my mom, and I’m not sure where she got it. It’s tasty and filling and easy to make, so our sports-ball tribute day seemed like an appropriate time to both fill our bellies and revisit it on the blog. Originally, the recipe was fairly simple – artichoke hearts, Parmesan, mayo, diced chilies, and some spices. Over the years, however, I have made some minor tweaks to the recipe, adjusting it to suit the tastes of the people whose parties I attended and eventually incorporating the best of those changes into a recipe of my own.

My favorite thing about dip is how versatile it is. If you get tired of making it one way, there are a million permutations just waiting to be discovered. For example, Katja is not much of a mayonnaise fan. That put a pretty big crimp in my dip making plans, as mayo is a key ingredient here. I had to admit, now that she made me step back and think about it, that the health implications of so much mayo were a bit grim. So, I cut the mayo in half and added some more healthy ingredients, such as black olives, beans, and sautéed zucchini. The result is still far from healthy, but I feel a little less guilty when I eat half a dish by myself.

On game day Katja and I sat around a fire, reading and eating to our hearts’ content. To be honest, we did occasionally stop what we were doing to go online and live stream some sports action. After all, who can resist the Puppybowl? Anyway, whether you are a hard-core sports fan, or just a hard-core snacker, we hope this dip serves you well at your next party.

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