There are times I’m just not interested in how many calories and fat grams are in something. If I’ve decided that I’m going to splurge, then let the splurging begin, and not another thought on the matter. And because I consider myself a person that tends to eat predominantly on the “healthier side” of the food spectrum, when I decide to indulge a little, then I do it with full enjoyment and with disregard for the damage I’m about to incur, calorically. The way I look at it is tomorrow’s another day; and I can always get back on track then, right? Tonight, it’s all about getting my comfy-food fix on, and I’ve got my hungry eyes fixed on an outrageously delicious little dippy-do.
One of my favorite appetizers to let my splurging nature go wild on is a hot, cheesy dip with some crispy, crunchy little chip-y thingies to plunge into it. The comforting goodness—the creamy, warm heavenly-ness—that a hot dip appetizer provides isn’t quite like anything else, don’t you find? I’m convinced there must be a little magic in a dip like that. My husband and I can be out on a little romantic date and in a deep conversation across the table from one another, eyes locked in a lovingly intense gaze as we pick apart some topic all too familiar to us such as the meaning of life, or what the purpose of our existence is; but when a scrumptious, hot, velvety dip gets put down on the table…look out. It silences us right quick. Our hands, which we were lovingly entwined across the table only a moment earlier, fingers caressing fingers in a sweetly gentle and loving way, now become a blur of movement as they reach for the biggest chips or crisps that they can find in order to scoop up the most amount of the enticing, savory gooey-ness that is now before us in all of its glory, and shove them into our watering mouths. All feminine modesty and gentlemanly manners go out the window at that point. Why even pretend?
So since my husband and I so adore sharing a cozy bowl of hot, cheesy dip; and since I want to be able to whip it up myself whenever our craving for a comforting little splurge whispers softly into our ears, I’ve created my very own special recipe for “Outrageously Delicious” Hot Kale & Artichoke Dip which includes five cheeses, roasted garlic and some crispy, baked pita strips to dip and crunch on. I mean really, how much convincing do you think you’ll need? Tomorrow is for getting back on track; but tonight, it’s about getting seduced by the magical juju of this heavenly dip, and letting your splurge side run a bit wild.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
“Outrageously Delicious” Kale & Artichoke Dip with Five Cheeses and Roasted Garlic, with Crispy, Lemon-Olive Oil Pita Strips
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(Makes 1 batch, serving about 8)
2 heads garlic
3 ½ ounces kale (about 1/3 of a 10 ounce bag of cut kale)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened (you can gently heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds)
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped (half of a 12 ounce bag)
1 ¼ cups shredded, four-cheese blend (Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina), divided use
1-2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
• Crispy, Lemon-Olive Oil Pita Strips (recipe below)
-Preheating your oven to 400°, and lightly mist a small/medium-sized baking dish (about a quart size) with cooking spray.
-Roast the heads of garlic by cutting the tops off of each, exposing the cloves; drizzle each head with a little olive oil, wrap each tightly in a small piece of foil, and place into the oven to roast for 40 minutes; once roasted and soft, remove from foil and allow the heads to slightly cool so they can be handled; then, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves, and using a fork or the side of your knife, mash the roasted cloves into a paste; set aside for a moment, and turn the oven up to 450°.
-While the garlic is roasting, place a medium-large pot of water over high heat; once it comes to the boil, turn the heat off and add the kale in, pushing it down into the water with a pair of tongs; allow the kale to very briefly blanch (about 30-45 seconds), and then drain and immediately plunge it into an ice water bath to “shock” it and cool it down for a few seconds; drain the kale very well, and squeeze out any excess water, and pat dry with a paper towel; next, very finely chop the kale, and remove any bigger, tough “rib” pieces, or chop those up very finely; set the kale aside for a moment.
-Add the softened cream cheese to a medium-large bowl, and to it add the sour cream and the mayonnaise; mix these ingredients well with a spatula, until they are blended and fairly smooth; next, add in the chopped artichoke hearts, the chopped kale and the roasted garlic paste, along with ¼ cup of the shredded four-cheese blend, and mix together; next, add in the parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice, and incorporate those in, blending the mixture thoroughly.
-To bake, turn the mixture out into the prepared baking dish, and smooth the top with a spoon; sprinkle over the remaining 1 cup of shredded four-cheese blend, and place into the oven to bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the dip is hot and bubbly, and the top golden; serve with Crispy, Lemon-Olive Oil Pita Strips for dipping, or your choice of chips.
Crispy, Lemon-Olive Oil Pita Strips ingredients:
6-8 whole pitas, cut in half, and then those halves cut into strips
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3-4 tablespoon olive oil
• Pinch salt
• Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
• Pinch garlic powder
• Lemon wedge (to squeeze over chips after baking – optional)
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
-Place the pita strips into a large bowl, and add in the lemon zest; toss the strips with the lemon zest, to evenly coat and “perfume” the pita strips; next, drizzle in the olive oil, and add the salt, pepper and garlic powder, and toss everything together to coat the strips in the seasoning; turn the strips out onto the lined baking sheet in as much of a single layer as possible, and place into the oven to bake for about 20-22 minutes, stirring the strips about half-way through, or until golden-brown and crisp; serve warm or cool with the dip.