This is one of those recipes I knew I shouldn’t have made. I have no business preparing something with this much cheese in it. Although, I will tell you that it’s probably one (again) of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten in my life. It’s stupid good. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it is.
I’d like to thank Jen at Carlsbad Cravings for this recipe. She posted it to her site on December 22 and I’ve been looking at it ever since. I’ll tell you, I’m pretty happy to be writing this post because now I can finally close her page. I’ll tell you something else as well, Jen is something like a genius because the flavors in this dish are insane. I didn’t think they were going to be. I was actually planning on doing a bit of browning here and trying to squeak out some flavor there, but the moment I tasted this dip half way through, I knew I didn’t need to do much. Don’t get me wrong, I put my little twist in around the edges, but by and large, I followed her directions very closely. So thank you.
As you browse through the photos below, you may notice a new addition to our family of kitchen gear. The day I picked up the giant measuring cup from our local Reny’s, I also bought a three pack of bamboo cutting boards. These are neat little boards and are quite handy to have around when preparing recipes and taking photos. I’m not going to get these too wet or anything because I’ve seen photos of bamboo warping like nuts, but I will use them to transport ingredients to the table like I did below. Oh, by the way, this variety pack of cutting boards only set me back $8.99, which is slightly less than I’ve seen them floating around online for.
Anyway, let’s get going with the recipe. This is another good one, so you may want to bookmark this page. I’m thinking it’d be perfect for parties or something like that. People would bow to you after tasting it.
Makes about 8 pieces
1 Loaf French Bread (around 18 inches long)
1 Thawed Package Frozen Spinach
1 Tablespoon Pure (refined) Olive Oil
1 Red Bell Pepper
2-3 Garlic Cloves
2 Tablespoons Pesto (Homemade or store bought)
1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (Homemade or store bought)
4 Ounces Cream Cheese (Half regular package)
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shredded Parmesan
1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
I’ll give you the run down of how I put this together below. I tried to take as many photos as I could, but running back and forth sort of got in the way at times. Still, what I managed to grab should tell the story.
When preparing this recipe, I suggest that you prep everything first (such as chopping the veggies and shredding the cheeses). Also, be sure to have all the ingredients at the ready on your counter somewhere. The last thing you want to do is to go hunting around for Worcestershire sauce as your spinach dip is simmering. So, I implore you to read through the directions below before you begin and prep what you can. Just set everything aside in bowls.
Before I did anything else, I turned my oven on to 350 degrees. It takes a while to heat up, so I thought this would be a good time to get this out of the way.
Heat Olive Oil in Skillet
For this recipe, I used my trusted All-Clad skillet, which came in very handy. Like usual, it was a dream to sautee with and its size was immensely helpful.
For this very first step, I heated the 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high. Remember, you want to use refined (pure or light) olive oil here because of the high smoke point. Extra-virgin is no good in this scenario. I heated the oil until it shimmered.
Add Chopped Onion to Skillet
Once the pan was hot enough, I added the chopped onion to it. I used one large sweet onion for this recipe.
I sauteed the onion until it was right past soft. I wanted to coax a bit of extra flavor from it by browning it some. This took around 7 minutes to complete. The picture below is about half way complete.
Add Chopped Red Bell Pepper & Garlic
While the onion was cooking, I went ahead and chopped up the red bell pepper and the garlic. After I was finished with that and when the onion was ready, I added these two ingredients to the mix and sauteed them for just about 2 minutes.
Here’s a photo of that process.
Continue Adding Ingredients
After those ingredients were good to go, I added the package of thawed out spinach, the 2 tablespoons of store bought pesto I purchased (I was going to make homemade, but I couldn’t get my hands on fresh basil), the 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, the 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and the 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. I’ll tell you, that mayo I made yesterday really helped this dish out.
I stirred these ingredients continuing on medium-high until everything came together and was dispersed in the skillet.
Add Cheese to Skillet
At this point, I turned the heat down to low. Earlier on, I had taken a nice photo of the Parmesan cheese I used for this recipe.
I absolutely love freshly shredded Parmesan like this. Do yourself a big favor and pick up some real cheese for this dish. I’ve used the grated and shredded stuff in that clear canister before and I swear it tastes like plastic. I’m not sure what they spray on it as an anti-sticking agent, but it’s not good. Go with real and freshly shredded.
I added the 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan to the skillet and continued to stir.
After that, I added the 1/2 cup of shredded sharp Cheddar to the skillet and kept on stirring.
Lastly, I added the half package (4 ounces) of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream and mixed everything up until it was completely melted. I took the skillet off the heat at this point.
Make a Bread Barge
This was interesting. I wondered how I was going to carve out the center portion of the French bread. I’d say I did very well.
What I did to complete this task was to cut a slice at either end of the loaf, straight down about half way. After that, I cut a “V” horizontally along the center. I had to cut a bit more out later on to make some additional room, but that was about it.
Fill Bread With Spinach Mixture
Luckily, my bread was large enough to hold all my spinach mixture. I was somewhat concerned about this. Basically, for this step, I scraped everything out of the skillet and into the bread. I smoothed it out as I went along. I think you can see where we’re going with this.
Add Mozzarella Cheese
The very last task I completed before popping the bread into the oven was to add the 1/2 cup of freshly shredded mozzarella cheese to the top of the spinach mixture.
Place Bread in Oven
When I was finished with adding the last bits of cheese, I put the bread in the heated oven. I let it stay there for about 20 minutes. At this point, I peeked inside to see how it was going and decided that I wanted to add some color to the bread. To do this, I increased the oven temperature to 375 degrees and let that go for about another 10 minutes. Basically, you want to melt all the mozzarella and to bake the bread until it starts to turn golden.
After 30 minutes in the oven, this is what I ended up with. Absolutely delicious.
Let me tell you, this spinach dip is extremely tasty. Because of this, I’m not going to limit its use to this bread. I think I may add some to a homemade pizza in the future. I might also add some as a topping on my fried eggs in the morning. Actually, I’ll just keep it in the fridge and see what happens.
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