The Real Deal: Classic Spinach Dip (no processed packages need apply)

 

Spinach Dip, ready for an overnight chill to develop it's true flavors.

Spinach Dip, ready for an overnight chill to develop it’s true flavors.

I worked at this one catering company for many years.  The founder was, is, an excellent chef.  The chef in the kitchen was very talented, and he had an innate knowledge of how to make food taste amazing.

When I finally left, and got a catering management position serving some of the same clientele, I attempted to recreate some of the standard fare that I knew everyone loved.

Spinach Dip was one of them.

Not having the recipe, I first purchased a mix at the store. Not very good at all.

Instead, I closed my eyes, relaxed, and put myself back in the kitchen that I had worked in for so many years.  What bottles were on the shelf?  What seasonings and spices?  What was always, always in stock in the cooler?

You’d think I could just go look it up online, but this was back in the late 1990’s.

The kitchen was pretty sparse most of the time, so it was fairly easy to go back in time and visualize one of the cooks prep the dip.

When I made it myself, and realized how few ingredients were in the dish, and how vastly superior the taste is, why wouldn’t people make it from scratch , too?

I was really shocked at how simple the process is.  It can even be easier if you use a food processor to chop the onions.

The basic ingredients.

The basic ingredients.

NOTE:  MUST BE MADE ONE DAY AHEAD to allow flavors to develop.

To make a small batch (serves 15-30 people), you will need :

 

  • 1 10-ounce box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream (regular preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder (optional, but makes a difference)
  • ½ teaspoon white or black pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon dill, dried

 To make a large batch for a party(serves 50-100 people), you will need:

  • 1 two-pound box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 48-ounces sour cream (1 quart plus 1 pint) 
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1½ teaspoon onion powder (optional, but makes a difference)
  • 1½ teaspoon white or black pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon dill, dried

Method:

Let the spinach thaw overnight in the fridge.  It is best to place it in a container, as it will leak.  I then like to place it on the counter, or in the microwave to finish thawing.  To drain the spinach, you can either:

  • Wrap the spinach in a tea towel and squeeze it dry
  • Place the spinach in a colander and press it dry
  • Or (my favorite shortcut), gently squeeze the box of spinach so that the liquid starts to drain out of one of the corners.  You may have to open a corner (a tiny bit) so you don’t get sprayed or it doesn’t burst open.  Continue to squeeze the box until all (most) of the water is removed.  Voila.  No dishes to wash. 

Set the spinach aside for a moment.

Take half of a white or yellow onion and coarsely chop.  Add to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse several times until minced.   Remove the onion, measure out ½ cup and return the ½ cup  minced onion to the food processor with any onion liquid in the processor bowl.   If you don’t have a processor, simply mince finely and measure out a half cup onion; add to mixing bowl.

Place the drained spinach in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the spinach, and the sour cream, the onions, garlic, and seasonings. 

Putting it all in the processor makes for quick and easy work.

Putting it all in the processor makes for quick and easy work.

Pulse briefly until it is just mixed.  Transfer to a storage container.  Taste, but don’t add anything.  This needs to sit overnight for the flavors to develop.  If, by the next day it still needs salt or seasonings, add a bit more of your choice:  salt, pepper, Worcestershire.  Follow the same process for the large batch as the small, only you may have to do it several times given the size of your food processor.  

NOTE: If my memory serves me correctly (if often fails), the large size of sour cream available commercially and at large discount stores is a 48-ounce container.  Otherwise, purchase a 32-ounce and a 16-ounce container.

Try it once as written.  The second time, add your signature ingredients to make it your own:  green onions, diced radishes, sliced water chestnuts, diced red bellpeppers, diced carrots, or jalapenos for a spicy kick.

Serve it up in a bread bowl or a pretty party bowl.  This goes well with bread rounds and any standard cracker as well as with all manner of crudités.  In catering, we served it alongside our vegetable tray, and many people would skip the crackers and eat the spinach dip with the veggies. 

 

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