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Greetings friends, it's time for this month's Cooking with Astrology "Aries". We are starting our meal with this delicious, lactose-free* Spinach Artichoke Dip. I had a really hard time coming up with a name for this dip that would make sense, so hopefully it is not too confusing.
Are you wondering who are imaginary date is? Our date is Nathan Fillion, aka Richard Castle! I have had a crush on Nathan ever since he played Joey Buchanan on One Life to Live.....
Nathan is from Canada, so that didn't really help me with a "theme" for our meal. I decided to go with the suggestions that I found in the book Lobster for Leos, Cookies for Capricorns: An Astrology Lover's Cookbook by Sabra Ricci. This is one of many books that I have been using during research for the Cooking with Astrology series.
Aries is the first sign in the zodiac, though not the sign that I started with. 🙂 The body part ruled by Aries, is the brain. Every Aries that I have ever known, has been a bookworm. My dad, has bookcases up to the ceiling! My daughter, the princess, has two full bookcases in her tiny bedroom. They both reread books over and over again when they run out of new ones!! Their brains are always absorbing more knowledge, and their bodies are always on the move. My dad's nickname is Tasmanian Devil for a reason! 😉
Artichokes are high in luteolin flavinoids, and can reduce brain inflammation and reverse age-related memory deficits by directly blocking the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain. Luteolin is also found in many other foods, including celery, rosemary, parsley, carrots, broccoli, and dandelion just to name a few. When I hear artichokes, my mind immediately goes to Spinach Artichoke Dip.....
The downside to this type of dip, is that it usually contains cream cheese, sour cream, and numerous cheeses. I was determined to create a dip that even I can eat, and I did!! Now I cannot promise you that you will not have any adverse effects from eating this dip (*explanation coming later). I was perfectly fine after eating it otherwise I would not be posting it. 😉
How to make Spinach Artichoke Dip:
Mince the garlic and shallot.....
chop the artichoke hearts.....
You want them small enough to fit on your chips. Now chop some fresh baby spinach and pack it into your measuring cup.....
Heat the oil in a saute pan, and cook the garlic and shallots until translucent and soft.....
Add the artichoke and spinach and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until aromatic and softened.....
Remove from heat and set aside. Measure and drain the tofu in a paper towel.....
Tofu holds a lot of water, so we want to remove the excess moisture. Beat tofu and Greek yogurt* in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.....
Stir in the artichoke mixture, half of the shredded cheese*, salt and black pepper, and cayenne pepper.....
Spread the dip mixture in a greased 11 by 7 inch baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.....
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and melty (just pretend that melty is a real word).....
I sprinkled chopped cilantro on top to make it look pretty 🙂 and served it with bagel chips.....
*Okay, explanation time.....
How do you make Spinach Artichoke Dip lactose-free?
Fage' Greek Yogurt is processed in a way that filters out most of the whey which is where lactose is found, and is virtually lactose-free. It also contains active cultures of bacteria that break down the lactose for you. I personally, have never had a problem with eating this brand of yogurt. Everyone is different, so use common sense when trying new recipes.
Sharp cheddar cheese, or any cheese aged for more than 90 days is virtually lactose free. Some brands work better for me than others, but none have made me sick. I used white cheddar for this dip.
If you do not need a lactose-free dip, or do not want to eat tofu, substitute 8 ounces of cream cheese.
More delicious Aries meal recipes:
Spinach Artichoke Dip
- 14 ounce can artichoke hearts drained and chopped
- 1 cup packed chopped fresh spinach
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 8 Ounces firm tofu drained
- 1 cup Fage Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (divided)
- sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to soften.
- Add the chopped spinach and artichokes, and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until soft and aromatic. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix tofu and Greek yogurt with a hand mixer until smooth.
- Stir in the spinach and artichoke mixture, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and 3/4 cup of shredded cheese.
- Spread dip mixture in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
- Serve with bagel chips, pita chips, or vegetable sticks.
- For a spicier dip, increase cayenne to 1 teaspoon or more.
- If you do not need a lactose-free dip, or do not want to eat tofu, substitute 8 ounces of cream cheese.