Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spectacular Kale and Artichoke Dip

I am a fan of all things that you probably should consume in mass quantities: Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Wine, Cheese, etc. So it comes as no surprise that one of my favorite things in the world is the classic, cheesy, creamy spinach artichoke dip. It's something that can be really good, or really bad, depending on the execution. I like mine with a thick base, and lots of the veggies. Because spinach is sometimes watery even when drained quite a bit, I tried this with kale. The result - amazing. Kale stands up so well - I even like the flavor better! Since I like about a 70/30 veggies to base ratio, I actually don't use all the base that this recipe makes, but you can add more or less depending on your taste. Did I say this is amazing? This is amazing. You won't even care what you eat it with, but I'd suggest some sturdy tortilla chips or pita chips or a large spoon. I use a different blend of cheeses: Parmesan, White Cheddar, a little bit of Feta and Fontina, and of course, cream cheese. I don't use sour cream, which many do. Get the secrets of the fantastic dip after the jump.

Kale and Artichoke Dip (Serve 8-10) 
You will need: 

  • 2 T unsalted butter 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 heads kale, stems removed, chopped into small pieces
  • 28 oz artichoke hearts, quartered, chopped roughly
Base (Bechamel-Style)

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 T All-purpose Flour
  • 1-1/2 cup Whole Milk 
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Fontina  
  • 3/4 cup grated Sharp white cheddar (plus some for the topping)
  • 1/4 cup  Feta
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. First, butter a medium casserole dish (glass or ceramic). On medium low heat in a large pan, melt the 2 T of butter. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant  2-3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add kale. Stir or use tongs to move the kale around until it begins to soften and wilt, 5-7 minutes. Because it's heartier than spinach, you need to cook it more. Remove kale and transfer to a sieve or colander with tongs so the liquid and garlic remain. Let it cool a few minutes so you don't burn your hands. Drain by pressing, until most liquid is removed.
Add artichoke hearts and cook over medium high heat for several minutes, until the artichokes start to turn golden brown. Add a bit more butter if needed. Remove the artichokes and set aside. 
In the same pan, start the bechamel. Melt the 3 T of butter on medium heat and whisk in the flour vigorously until it comes together as a paste. (almost like you would a roux) Continue to cook the paste over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the whole milk pouring slowly. It will bubble vigorously and look separate - keep pouring and whisking until the mixture smooths out and starts to thicken - cook 5-7 minutes on medium high - stirring frequently until very thick (coats a spoon and is almost a pudding consistency). Add salt and pepper and cayenne and stir to combine. Add the whole package of cream cheese. Then add the parmesan and white cheddar. Finally stir in the feta and fontina until the cheese is all melted. Add chopped kale and artichoke hearts together in a large bowl. Pour in base until you have the ratio of base to veggies that you want. Transfer into your prepared casserole dish. Top with some white cheddar. Bake for 15-20 minute or until totally warm and bubbly. Move under a broiler for a minute or two to brown if desired.

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