the “cold” weather is finally getting to me. and I’m caving to a crockpot. ::::
I am unapologetically sanctimonious when it comes to cooking with crockpots.
And yet I have a whole board pinned on Pinterest with slow cooker recipes. A WHOLE board. Visible. I still feel like it is a stain of mediocrity in my recipe collecting. It feels like a lazy way for me to cook, well, because it’s NOT cooking. I made this pinboard in haste as I went back to work after Sky-Girl was born last year, remembering how hard it was to work 10 hours a day then come home to cook for two kids before she was born. I scanned dozens of recipes for long cook times (8 hours), ones that involved meat (to satisfy the kids and husband), and ones that did not involve artificial cheese or ranch dressing. The meat criterion was the only easy find, given that I was okay with pale, visually unappetizing fare swimming in grease. Sauces covered the ghoulish color, I drained the grease, and the long cook times provided meat so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. And no one else had any other better ideas besides McDonald’s.
This is not one if those recipes. There is pre-browning of the onions. It only takes 3 hours, or less. I actually found this recipe recently, and on a whim decided to try it while in a lapse of judgment and in a brief moment of disdain for my cast iron pans. The recipe was better than I expected. And almost everyone else in the family enjoyed it. The long-cooked spinach may take on a mild gray-dark green hue though it is more aesthetically pleasing than a pale lobe of pork butt or greasy chicken thigh.
This will be your saving grace before a busy party, before a meal that monopolizes the stove and oven, or if you secretly feel a bit lazy and want to appear productive. I also suspect this dip freezes well if you can’t finish it. Just reheat it — in the crockpot. *Stepping down off my pedestal.* Crockpots aren’t that bad. In the right situations.
Slightly adapted from http://www.bhg.com/recipe/spinach-parmesan-dip/ .
- 24 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 12 to 14 ounce jar quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped (the marinated artichokes are especially good here)
- 1½ cups chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
- ½ cup shredded fontina (2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Optional pescatarian variation: add in 1½ cups of fresh, cooked crab or lobster meat (DO NOT use the canned: it sucks)
- Lightly butter your crockpot.
- Squeeze the juice from the spinach, reserving ½ cup of the juice.
- You can add the raw chopped onion to the crockpot, or for deeper flavor, sauté in olive oil with a sprinkle if salt to soften and brown before adding. I prefer the latter.
- Add in the drained spinach, artichoke, mustard, garlic, oregano, and cayenne.
- Mix and cook on low for 3 hours or high for 1½ hours (I find the 3 hours works better).
- Just before serving, add mayo, sour cream, cheeses, and lemon juice. Add crab/lobster, if using. Stir to combine and melt cheeses. Serve warm with crusty bread or crackers.