As has become tradition when I visit South Carolina, during my recent visit, Crist and I paid a visit to her parents for a little cocktail hour. As we arrived to her parents’ house, Crist’s mom was pulling something out of the oven, and it smelled absolutely delicious; she told us it was a spinach dip that she had found somewhere online, and decided to try out for us. Now, I have yet to find a spinach dip that I don’t love – but the second we dug into this one, we knew it was different than your average spinach dip! It was rich and smoky and creamy, but somehow also light and not greasy. In short, it was the most delicious spinach dip either of us had ever had! Obviously, we asked for the recipe right away, and we immediately added it to our menu for the weekend (and proceeded to spoil our dinners by scarfing down the entire dish of dip… oops?).
Creamy Spinach Dip with Bacon and Mushrooms
adapted slightly from here
serves 6-8 as an appetizer
6 slices of bacon
1/2 red pepper, cut into a 1/2″ dice
1/2 sweet yellow onion, cut into a 1/2″ dice
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 pint cremini mushrooms, stemmed and chopped small
1 bag of fresh baby spinach (or about 6oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
8 oz cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
8 oz sour cream (low-fat is fine)
one baguette, cut into 1/2″ slices and toasted
1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. In a large skillet, fry your bacon until crisp; remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan.
2.) Add your red pepper and onion, and saute until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms are browned and softened, another 3 to 4 minutes.
3.) Once the mushrooms are browned, go ahead and add the salt and pepper – you don’t want to salt the ingredients until after the mushrooms have browned, because the salt draws all their water out, and instead of browning, they’ll just sort of simmer in their own liquid!
4.) Add the fresh spinach (I like to chop mine up a bit, first) to the pan. It will seem like a TON of spinach, but it will quickly wilt; carefully mix it in with the hot vegetables, adding more spinach to the pan as room becomes available.
5.) Once all the spinach is wilted down, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside. Chop or crumble your crisp bacon. In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, blue cheese, and bacon. Then, add the vegetable mixture, and stir until everything is well combined.
6.) Lightly spray a baking dish (about 8×8 or so will do) with non-stick cooking spray; pour your spinach dip mixture into the dish, and spread it out evenly. Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes, until the edges are brown and bubbly!
7.) Serve with toasted baguette slices (pita chips or tortilla chips would also be just fine). Enjoy!
Honestly, this dip is fantastic. I’m already looking for excuses to make it again – in fact, I took the idea of it and made it into a pasta dish once I returned home to Michigan (I’m planning to post that recipe this Thursday, so be sure and stop back by), and it was AWESOME. The blue cheese and bacon add a lot of interesting flavor to the dip, but they don’t overpower it at all; additionally, the mushrooms add a great meatiness and texture (Crist is an avowed hater of mushrooms, and she did not find them to be bothersome in this dish – if you don’t like mushrooms, just be sure to dice them fairly small, and you’ll still get the texture impact, without coming across a giant hunk of mushroom). Many thanks to Deborah for introducing us to this one!
It would be acceptable to eat this as dinner, right?