Over the past forty years, this appetizer has become a classic that you can find on almost all the restaurants menus: spinach and artichoke dip.
The history of dips in the United States
A dip or dipping sauce is a condiment in which you generally dip chips, tortilla chips, bread or raw vegetables. The idea of these dips really took off in the 50s when eating in front of the TV became more common. TV dinners and especially dips became widespread as they do not require any utensils. CPG companies like Lays, known for its chips, helped push this trend.
In 1952, the Lipton company, which had a huge success with its instant soups, began to think on other ways to market its successful products. That’s when the company began promoting the use of its instant soup mixes in combination with sour cream to prepare quick and easy dips. A new category of snack was born and this category has seen its sales explode as television sets became ubiquitous.
Today, these dips are a must for parties or cocktails but also especially when gathering around the TV to watch events like the Oscars or the Superbowl.
What is the origin of the spinach and artichoke dip?
One of the most popular dips is spinach and artichoke dip. There is not much information about the creation or the origin of this dip and why it has become the most famous dip today. One story relates that when American soldiers returned from the front after the Second World War, they wanted to find some flavors which they had become accustomed to in Europe, including spinach, artichokes, but also garlic, lemon, Parmesan, olive oil and even crusty bread.
Since then, a large number of restaurant chains adopted the famous dip and it has become one of the classic appetizers in the United States. Moreover, the recipe from restaurants like Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory, Applebee’s, TGIF, BJ’s, Ruby Tuesdays, Red Robin, UNO’s or Claim Jumper, have become coveted recipes and some of them still remain secret.
Although this dip contains vegetables, it is nonetheless very caloric. Moreover, its success is also partly due to famous brands of mayonnaise (Hellman’s, Miracle Whip), sour cream (Daisy, Knudsen) or cream cheese (Philadelphia) that helped boost their sales with recipes on their packaging.
How to make spinach and artichoke dip
There is not one recipe for spinach and artichoke dip but hundreds. This recipe which is quite easy to prepare has given way to many variations including with proteins such as shrimp, crab, chicken or bacon, as well as tomatoes or olives.
This dip is truly excellent. In the pure tradition of American “cuisine”, this recipe is very quick and easy to prepare with ingredients that are generally in every American housewife’s pantry.
We like spinach on 196 flavors, and I already published what must be the ancestor of this spinach and artichoke dip, the Irish Halloween tradition of colcannon.
Although I love spinach and artichoke dip, I must say that it will never replace my favorite spinach dish, the one I was raised on: Tunisian pkaila… although it comes very close when it comes to calories.
- 1 (14 oz.) jar of artichoke hearts
- 1 (12 oz.) package of frozen spinach
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup cream cheese
- 1 clove garlic , crushed
- 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 oz. grated mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Drain the artichokes and coarsely chop.
Drain the spinach.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl, keeping half of the cheeses aside.
- Pour into a shallow baking dish (or more depending on the capacity).
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- Cook for 25 minutes.
- Optional: leave 5 more minutes under the broiler to grill cheese.
- Serve with chips, tortilla chips, bread or pita chips.
Crunchy raw vegetables are also a good alternative to chips and bread. Examples include broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, firm leaves of red cabbage, green onions, jicama, celery, radishes, cucumbers or bell peppers.