You probably think it's just another ordinary Monday, right? Well, that couldn't be further from the truth, because (big reveal here) it's actually... National Artichoke Heart Day!! Isn't that just thrilling?!! Aren't you glad I'm here to provide you with these very necessary tidbits of information?!! No, but seriously, it really is National Artichoke Heart Day and since I'd just made this Roasted Artichoke Dip-Lightened Up, I couldn't resist...sorry! (not for the dip, it's totally delish, but for the lame attempt at infusing the start of the week with a little humor!)
Traditional artichoke dip, the classic party favorite, with its rich cheesiness, is a pretty high calorie treat, coming in at about 240 calories per serving and over 20 grams of fat, and those servings are not large, I tell you. This lightened up version is still plenty creamy, cheesy and decadent and will make you feel like you're cheating, but is pared down to 140 calories per serving and only 8 grams of fat, which means that you can enjoy several scoops and not entirely ruin your workout.
You start with frozen artichoke hearts which you roast to bring out their flavor.
Then you saute some chopped onions, garlic and spices together and add them to a mixture of light mayonnaise and cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, a dash of cayenne pepper, and of course the chopped roasted artichokes, finally transferring the whole thing to a baking dish and topping with easy-to-make fresh homemade bread crumbs.
Then you bake the whole thing for about 25 minutes and what emerges is a really wonderful appetizer! There's the crunchiness of the fresh breadcrumb topping, the earthiness of the roasted artichokes and the creamy cheesiness of the interior that goes so well with crackers, baked tortilla chips or thin slices of toasted baguette.
My husband definitely enjoyed himself on this one!!
Hot Roasted Artichoke Dip-Lightened Up
Prep Time: 35 minutes (including roasting time); Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
For the Dip
- 2 (9 oz.) boxes of frozen artichoke hearts-don't thaw (sometimes I can only find 12 oz bags, just make them all and throw a few into a salad or eat them as is or make the dip with a few more artichokes--no worries)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup but no need to measure)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup light cream cheese, (the kind in a brick) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
For the Topping
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Vegetable cooking spray
1. To make the dip: Make sure oven rack is in middle of oven and preheat to 450ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place frozen artichokes in a large bowl, and toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Transfer to the baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until artichokes are browned at the edges, turning the pan around once during baking. Let the artichokes cool slightly and coarsely chop. Set aside
2. Lower the oven to 400ºF.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the onion, garlic, remaining teaspoon of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat and cook onion mixture, covered, for about 8-10 minutes until softened. Stir every now and then to prevent burning. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise, cream cheese, Parmesan, lemon juice, and cayenne and stir well to combine, making sure to smash any cream cheese lumps so that mixture is smooth. Gently fold in the artichokes and season to taste with a little more salt and pepper. Scrape the whole thing into an unbuttered 8-inch square baking dish.
4. For the Topping: Use any old piece of bread you have around--a loaf of Italian, country white or baguette--you can even use sliced bread if that's all you have. Cut the crusts off and cut the interior into small pieces. Place into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you get crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, you can just chop the bread up into really small pieces. In a small bowl, combine the fresh bread crumbs with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and then sprinkle over the top of the dip. Spray the crumbs lightly with the vegetable cooking spray and bake until the top is golden brow, 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately--this is best hot or at the very least, warm.
5. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days and reheated in a 350º oven.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated. I didn't change much--just left out the chopped thyme.