Wow! So many possibilities to get creative with this recipe, where to start? At the beginning, I guess… Our friends brought us a bag of grilled artichokes as a hostess gift the other night. They looked yummy and the next day I decided to turn them into a healthy baked dip. I did not have time to go to the store, so in true Creative Recipe fashion, I used whatever I had on hand. I did not have mayo, which is the classic ingredient for a baked artichoke dip, but I did have fat-free plain yogurt (not Greek style), and I was going for healthy. Searching online, I learned that yogurt can curdle a bit if baked at too high a temperature. Absolutely does not affect taste. There are tricks, according to my search, such as adding cornstarch to the yogurt or baking at a lower temperature. But I wanted a nicely browned dip, and I’m a believer in just starting somewhere and changing one ingredient or technique at a time in the quest for perfection. So I simply started with the yogurt, no thickener, a high enough oven to brown the dish and determined to note the results. The flavors and texture were delicious, it browned beautifully, and yes…. the yogurt did curdle slightly. Next time, I will add a thickener such as corn starch or rice flour to the yogurt to note that difference. You could get very creative with some sautéed spinach and/or zucchini or summer squash to really load up the veggie quotient. Here is the first go-round on this recipe and as you would expect, quantities are eye-balled:
1 bag grilled Artichoke Hearts, chopped (6 ounce bag) – These grilled hearts are certainly worth seeking out, but you could used canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped. There are also frozen artichoke hearts that may work, though I would recommend thawing and draining well first.
Roasted Red Peppers, chopped (hmmmm…. 1/2 cup or so?)
A few Celery tops, minced
Minced Vidalia Onion – about 2 tablespoons
Garlic – if desired (I omitted because the grilled artichokes were flavored with garlic. If I used canned, I would add some garlic)
Fresh Lemon Juice – about 1 teaspoon
Dill Weed – 1 to 2 teaspoons, to your taste. Basil would also be good, maybe tarragon or oregano, depending on your veggie choices. Get creative!
Plain Non-fat Yogurt – approximately 1 cup
Cheese – I used a combination of shredded Parmesan, Goat Cheese and Feta Cheese – about 1 -1/2 cups. Cream cheese would also melt nicely. Get creative, but perhaps avoid cheeses that get too “oily” as they melt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Place in an 8 x 8 square glass pan (I did not grease). Top with some more Parmesan Cheese.
Bake, uncovered, approximately one hour or until browned and bubbly.
If you add veggies with a high water content such as fresh spinach or squash, I would recommend grating the squash and chopping the spinach. Then sauté in a small amount of olive oil until the liquids that naturally leach out evaporate. That way you will not have a watery dip.
Maybe some bread crumbs (gluten free or Panko) or potato chip crumbs would be good on top? Just brainstorming…
This would be a great topping for a baked potato bar or veggie burgers – try the Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burger. What creative ideas and variations do you have?