Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Today’s run: 3 miles with the girls in the double stroller….that should count as double mileage, right? 😉

We have some neighbors with whom we have wine and snacks every few weeks. They are considerably older than us, but we’ve hit it off because they are also strangers to this area; they are from Atlanta and moved for the wife’s job. They are not vegan or vegetarian, but we enjoy having wine and light food and good conversation with them every few weeks.

We hosted this past Friday. I  decided I was not going to cook dinner in addition to the appetizers, so I made enough appetizers to count as dinner. We had homemade bread, homemade crackers (a variation of some of the recipes I’ve posted on this site), a carrot-sunflower seed dip that wasn’t all that good; tapenade; avocado slices; chocolate chip cookies; and this dip, which I thought turned out really well.

Full disclosure: I don’t think I’ve ever had the ‘real’ (non-vegan) spinach artichoke dip. I became a vegan when I was a freshman in college, and although it is possible I had some at some event prior to that, it is unlikely; I didn’t go to a lot of social events when I was young, and this was not something my mom ever made. So, I don’t know how authentic this is. I liked it, as did everyone else who ate it (including the 3-year-old and our omnivorous neighbors), so it’s definitely good in its own right, even if it’s not an exact replication of the real thing.

Another full disclosure: you can obviously take a recipe for the non-vegan dip and veganize it using Daiya, Veganaise, vegan cream cheese, etc. However, I don’t tend to cook with vegan analogs. One, they’re really pricey; two, they’re super-processed; and three, there’s not much satisfaction in veganizing something merely by using vegan cheese instead of regular cheese. I also really prefer using real, whole foods in my cooking. Don’t get me wrong; I have had Diaya cheese and Tofutti cream cheese, and have enjoyed both. I just don’t buy them or cook with them. For me, it is easier, cheaper, and somehow more honest to cook with naturally-vegan ingredients. But hey, if you buy and use those products, by all means use them, because I bet the dip would be delicious and much more authentic than this recipe.

Anyways…..on to the recipe!

1 pound fresh silken tofu

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 can brine-soaked artichoke hearts, chopped

1 pound frozen chopped spinach, stems picked out

preheat oven to 350.

Defrost the spinach at least somewhat and squeeze out the extra water. Chop the artichokes and squeeze out that extra water, too.

Using your immersion blender, puree the tofu, oil, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic. Puree for a few minutes, letting it get all nice and airy/bubbly.

Combine the tofu mixutre, artichokes, and spinach. Put into a 9 x 9 pan or two smaller casserole dishes. Don’t overfill the casseroles; the mixture will boil and bubble and could easily spill out.  Cook at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until it is lightly brown on top. Serve hot on bread, crackers, or even over pasta.

I think next time I will try using some miso instead of salt to give it more oomph, and maybe will try using a little lemon juice also. This was really good and basic, though, and SUPER easy and cheap.

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