What is art? This question has been discussed since humans developed the ability to win an argument and then bring it up slyly for the next forty years. There is, of course, no right answer, but people love to make the distinction. It’s not enough that we have the capacity to paint, but we have the capacity to say that another person’s painting looks like it was made by their four year old German Shepard.
While I can’t give you a definition or art, I can give you an example: SpinArt, otherwise known as Spinach and Artichoke dip. The nickname, coined by my best friend Adrienne, implies the transcendental and ineffable importance of this creamy dip. Spinach, artichoke, cheeses, and creams, are all melted together to form something museum-worthy. Plato may have said that art is the imitation of nature, but SpinArt is nature imitating something more delicious.
- 1 small shallot
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces of frozen spinach
- 8 ounce can of artichoke hearts
- 6 ounces of cream cheese
- 1 cup of sour cream
- 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella minus whatever you eat upon opening it
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan
- Bread, chips, or crackers
The first thing to do is prep your spinach and artichokes. You either need to let the spinach thaw or microwave it for a few minutes. Stick it in a strainer and squish it super hard, pushing out as much of the water as possible. I gave my spinach one last good squeeze with some paper towels.
Drain the artichoke hearts and then do the same strain and squeeze process; there is a surprising amount of water hidden inside these things. Chop them up roughly.
Once your vegetables are prepped, it’s time to cook them. I started with shallot.
What makes a shallot special? Well, it’s purple, which is pretty cool. I like shallots because of their size and flavor. I can’t always use an entire onion, but since shallots are smaller and milder I can use the entirety in one recipe. This means that two weeks after making something I won’t find a tiny container of onion that went bad in the back of my fridge.
Heat up some oil and add the scallion, garlic red pepper flakes.
Once the scallions are transparent add in the spinach and artichoke.
As that stuff heats up, prepare the dairy. You can basically add as much or as little of everything that you want. I decided to go cheese-heavy with this dip. The more cheese you add, the harder the dip will be at room temperature. If you want a cold, creamy dip, you should keep the cheese to a minimum and increase the cream cheese and sour cream. If you are planning on serving the dip warm, feel free to go crazy with cheese.
With the heat on low, mix in the remaining ingredients.
Let them melt and stir everything together. Add pepper if you’re into that.
At this point your dip is ready for eating, and if you are a normal person you have already tried some. The final step is to determine how to serve the SpinArt. I decided to get fancy and serve the dip in a bread bowl, even though I was planning on eating it entirely alone while in my bed.
If you want the dip to stay very hot, I suggest putting it in a pan, topping it with more cheese, and then baking it for awhile. Bread bowls are pretty impressive though, and fit nicely on a nightstand.