I had a couple of different recipe ideas to choose from this week, and ended up going back and forth several times as I tried to decide which one would win the coveted position for this particular recipe post. Well, as you can see, my snacking side got the better of me, as I've been desperately craving another hot and cheesy dip lately, one that I can slather all over some nice, rustic and spicy tortilla chips of some kind.
This morning when I made my decision that this hot & cheesy dip would be the winner for this particular post, I had the thought that gooey dips are kinda like delicious cookies in a way; if you've got a good base, you can pretty much make them with whatever ingredients sound appealing and that work well together, and add in a few other bells and whistles to round everything out and to give a bit of depth. And just like with cookies, who wouldn't want a new, yummy, hot dip in their repertoire?
But I digress...
You see, my “newer” approach this year when it comes to recipe posts is to share a recipe that I'm really craving in the moment. I suppose I would say that I'm trying to go with my gut instinct, and hope that it's a recipe that sounds tasty and inspiring to you, as well. It just makes things a little more personal, and a bit more “alive”, and I'm all about that these days.
And having decided to go with whatever I may be craving when it comes to creating a recipe (as opposed to creating something that I think “someone out there” will hopefully like), there's this sort of fresh enthusiasm when I get into the kitchen to cook and create; I'm finding that it's a more freeing way for me, personally, to approach developing recipes in order to then share them with you.
Cravings are wonderful guides; they're whimsical, colorful and often produce fun twists with delicious results. And how can anyone go wrong with that? When we have a real craving for the food we prepare, then there's a joy and excitement attached to the act of cooking, and it infuses the food with a certain “je ne sais quoi”—a special and unique flavor—that everyone can taste. And boy does it taste good.
So now you know: this Hot & Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Dip loaded with white cheddar and gruyere cheeses, roasted garlic, a hint of spice and a splash of white wine is what your humble recipe developer was craving this week. To me, it seemed like the perfect time to tinker a little and let my imagination take over while also allowing myself the chance to enjoy a savory dip “fix”.
Perhaps you yourself are having an inexplicable craving for a dip such as this, a craving for something of the hot, cheesy and gooey variety. And perhaps I tapped into that, and you now have a remedy for it in this very recipe. So here's to letting those sometimes-crazy cravings do the cooking, in the hopes that some genuine and richly loaded recipes will come out of 'em.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Hot & Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Dip with White Cheddar and Gruyere Cheeses, with Roasted Garlic and a touch of Spice
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6
• 2 heads garlic
• Olive oil
• 6 ounces (about half of a 12 ounce bag) cauliflower florets
• Black pepper
• Cayenne pepper
• ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
• ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
• 12 ounces light cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup light sour cream
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
• ¼ cup grated parmesan
• 1 ¼ cups white cheddar & gruyere cheese blend, shredded, divided use (I bought a block at Trader Joes)
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for a little extra for garnish
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• ¼ teaspoon herbs de Provence, plus a pinch for garnish
• 1 tablespoon white wine (or substitute about 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, if preferred)
• 1 cup, tightly packed, raw baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
• Chips for dipping
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil; also, lightly mist a small/medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray.
-Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic; place each of the heads onto a small square of foil, drizzle with a touch of olive oil, wrap tightly, and place into the hot oven directly onto the wire rack.
-Next, toss the cauliflower florets with a generous drizzle of the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, a pinch of the black pepper, a pinch of the cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon of the paprika, and the onion and garlic granules, and turn that out onto the foil-lined baking sheet; place into the oven next to the foil-wrapped garlic about 10 minutes after the garlic was put in, and roast together for 30 minutes more, until cauliflower is slightly charred and soft, and garlic is soft and aromatic.
-Remove the cauliflower and garlic heads from the oven, and turn the oven up to 450°.
-Unwrap the garlic heads from the foil to allow them to completely cool before squeezing them from their papers and smashing them into a paste with a knife or fork; allow the cauliflower florets to completely cool, and then very finely chop them; set both of those aside for a moment while you prepare the base of the dip.
-In a large bowl, add the softened cream cheese, the sour cream, the mayo, the grated parmesan, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar/gruyere blend, the parsley, lemon zest, herbs de Provence, the white wine, ¾ teaspoon of salt and another pinch of cayenne pepper, and fold those ingredients together until fairly smooth and well combined.
-Next, add in the chopped baby spinach, the chopped cauliflower and the roasted garlic paste, and fold those in until well incorporated.
-Turn the mixture out into the prepared baking dish, smooth the top out a bit, and sprinkle over the remainder of the shredded cheddar/gruyere cheese ; sprinkle another little pinch of the herbs de Provence and paprika over the cheese, and bake in the oven for about 20-22 minutes, or until golden and bubbly; sprinkle with a touch of the chopped parsley, and serve warm with tortilla chips.