Since artichoke season starts in March, and since I featured my new artichoke piccata recipe a few weeks ago, artichokes have been top of mind for me. You all know how much I love artichokes! And it hit me that I have not made my skillet artichoke, fresh spinach, and bacon dip in ages. Which, of course, left me craving it.
I’ve made this recipe for a quick family tapas meal, for poker nights, and sometimes as a “Friday night snack instead of dinner” treat. I always try to keep a can of artichokes in the pantry. And I usually have at least crackers if not fresh bread as well. The other ingredients tend to be things I usually keep in the fridge, so it really is a “go to” recipe for me.
You can find countless variations of spinach artichoke dip recipes, but what I like about this one is how rustic it is. To me, what makes it rustic are the coarsely chopped spinach and artichokes, so you really get their flavor, and the use of fresh versus frozen spinach.
I must admit I am not a fan of frozen spinach. It has to be thawed, and then it has ALL that water that has to be squeezed out, because draining it alone never seems to be enough. You are left with these stringy strips of flavorless green. I’ll take fresh any day.
And finally, I really like that other than the bowl for mixing the bacon and dairy ingredients, it goes from cook top to oven in the same cast iron skillet.
This skillet artichoke, fresh spinach and bacon dip is a very vegetable forward dip, held together in a savory, garlicky, creamy and cheesy base. It’s yumminess in every bite. And although Steve was not home to help me consume it, I made myself a pan anyway. What the heck, I figured I can always re-purpose the leftovers for another meal.
Let’s make a skillet artichoke, fresh spinach and bacon dip
Simple, easy ingredients.
You can use the shredded cheese of your choice. But I like a mild, melty white cheese to act as a gentle foil against all the other bold flavors. I want the creaminess and stretch of the melted cheese, but I want it in the background, not the forefront of the palate.
I coarsely chop the spinach and the artichoke hearts for those nice rustic chunks I described. And I cook the bacon in paper towels on a paper plate in the microwave. That’s because I want to render as much fat from it as I can before adding it to the dip.
Many recipes call for using some of the fat after cooking the bacon in the skillet, but I think the cheese, mayo, sour cream and cream cheese add enough fat. I want my dip creamy, not greasy.
Start by sautéing the garlic and onions in the olive oil until just tender.
Add the spinach and artichoke. Sprinkle with salt and pepper at this time but go easy on the salt. The artichoke was in a brine. And both the bacon and cheese have salt as well. You can always taste if after fully assembled and add more at the end if needed.
Cook until the baby spinach is wilted, and the artichoke chunks are heated through.
Remove from the burner and, in a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients thoroughly.
Combine everything in the skillet, again being careful to stir thoroughly.
It’s ok if the pan is still a little hot. The heat will help everything get even softer and easier to stir. And it’s going right into the oven anyway.
Bake at 400° F for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is lightly bubbling.
And you get this beautifully fragrant and rustic result.
Serve it with crackers, fresh hunks of bread, pita chips, and/or tortilla chips. My favorite is the fresh bread.
You might wait a few minutes before serving because the dip will be VERY HOT. But it is otherwise best warm. If it gets too cool, you can always pop it back in the often for a few minutes.
It’s creamy, stretchy with cheese, savory with onion and garlic. It has the pop of fresh greens from the baby spinach and the slight briny meatiness of the artichoke hearts. One taste makes me hum with joy. And although I did not make a very big dent in this particular pan, I did make an equally delicious snack with some of the leftovers.
So, if you are having friends over and want a warm comfort snack, or maybe an addition to a family tapas meal, this is a great option!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, very coarsely chopped
- 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts in brine, coarsely chopped
- 6 Strips bacon, cooked and chopped small
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion until just tender.
- Add the spinach and artichokes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the bacon and the mozzarella also contain some salt.
- Cook just until the spinach has wilted and the artichoke hearts are heated through.
- Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the remaining ingredients.
- Add the mixed ingredients to the warm spinach and artichoke in the skillet.
- Stir until all the ingredients are well distributed. The dip may become somewhat soft from the warm pan. That should help in mixing everything evenly.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the ingredients are bubbling slightly.
- Serve with fresh bread, crackers, pita or firm tortilla chips.