Besides all of the many obvious things that we love about living here in California, one of my favorite things is the fact that we get to entertain so often. Our house here in Long Beach was meant for having guests. We have a really open living room, with tons of windows and great light and great fireplace for the cool nights, plus when the weather warms up we can host cookouts and dinner parties like crazy on our large deck. I am certain we have entertained far more in the first year of living in this home, than all 9+ years living in our home in New York.
I love well planned dinner parties with a theme, where everything matches and has a purpose. But just as much – I love a good thrown-together spur of the moment get-together where we just toss some burgers on the grill, pop open some bubbly wine or beers and enjoy the company of our wonderful friends. A few weeks back we did just that with our friends Dan and Debbie. We decided to get together and just grill some burgers and catch up. Nothing fancy. Just easy and simple. I swore I wasn’t going to fuss, it was going to be simple as can be and just about spending time together.
Of course, as it got closer to the time they would be showing up, I started to panic that I didn’t have any snacks or appetizers so I decided to check out what I had on hand and pull together a quick appetizer. I had to. I am like an addict when it comes to having guests and serving food. This dip wasn’t premeditated in any way, it literally was a slightly more organized version of a dish from that cooking show Chopped, where they give the contestants a basket with random ingredients and they have to make a delicious dish.
Obviously, this wasn’t quite as challenging since I had the pick of everything in the kitchen, but still – getting creative on the fly simply with what is around is one of my favorite things to do. Some of my most favorite dishes have come out of those moments. This dip is certainly one of them. It is easy to put together and it has so much flavor. It is reminiscent of a classic spinach artichoke dip but without the mounds of mayonnaise and insane amounts of cheese. It’s light, creamy and totally satisfying. I like to serve it with endive leaves to keep it really light, but it is also good on your favorite cracker or tortilla chip.
I made this dip from what was on hand in the pantry and refrigerator, but you can certainly make it completely fresh too by opting for your fresh artichokes that have been marinated and steamed, fresh spinach that has been lightly steamed, you can even cook your own beans. But let’s be honest, appetizers are meant to be fast and easy, so I really recommend keeping it that way.
[print_this]Spinach Artichoke White Bean Dip with Feta – Grain-free, Gluten-free
serves 4 to 6
- 1 15-ounce can organic Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked)
- 3/4 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese, crumbled – divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeeze lemon juice
- 1 12-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained and roughly chopped
- 16 ounces frozen organic chopped spinach, thawed with all the moisture squeezed out
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh chives, thinly sliced – for serving
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease with olive oil, a 8×8 glass baking dish or a similarly sized dish. Set aside.
Add the white beans, 1/2 cup of feta cheese, the garlic cloves and lemon juice to a food processor. Start processing, slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Process until it is smooth and creamy.
Add in the roughly chopped artichokes and chopped spinach. Fold into the creamy white bean dip with a spatula, until well combined. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Add the dip to the baking dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the dip is warmed through and the feta on top is just barely starting to brown and melt a bit. Top with fresh chives and serve warm with your favorite veggies, crackers or chips. [/print_this]