Spinach-Artichoke Spread by Erin Brady

“Healthy” is a pretty general, even vague term isn’t it? “Healthy food” is even more general. I bet I could ask five people their definition of healthy food and get five different answers. The term “healthy food” to me, means real food. It has no fat, calorie, or carb maximum. It also does not have it’s own TV commercial. All that is required for me is that it be real – something that has come from Mother Nature herself, with no (or as few as possible) un-pronounceable ingredients.

I’ve done a lot of dinners on this blog and maybe a breakfast or two. But what about snacks? Or even condiments? I think snacks are one of the ways we (or at least I) sometimes drop the ball. I think of snacks as small quick bites for myself or for when my kid starts doing the “I’m hungry” dance and it’s still an hour until the next meal. I’ll admit it; I can get either very lazy and boring with snacks. This is where that organic-unnatural thing comes in, like the gummy-fruit snacks. Yes it may be organic, but does it really matter if it’s that processed? Lately I have been trying to find my family some quick, healthy, non-boring snacks. I’m great about healthy foods in meals, but snacks are often a time when I forget or (let’s be honest) choose to tolerate things I would be horrified to see on my dinner plate.

So with my new mission in hand, here is one of my first solutions to my weakness. This recipe can be used as a dip, but I also like to use it on my sandwiches as a sub for mayo. It’s a great way to get some extra lean protein and veggies in all while being totally satisfied. I love it on toast with or without eggs on top. It’s just a great all-purpose spread. If you seal & store it properly it can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer. If you have a spare ice cube tray you can actually make little cubes of this so you can take out only what you need. This is so easy to make, fresh, creamy and rich. Oh yeah, did I mention vegan? This is something that everyone can enjoy!

Ingredients:
• 4 cups fresh spinach
You can absolutely use frozen spinach if you want to. I really prefer the fresh for this though, for one thing it’s a pretty basic recipe. Not a lot of flavors competing, so you want each one to taste the best it can. I also love to use peppery, fresh arugula for this. You can also use any bitter greens like kale or Swiss chard.
• ½ onion
Any onion will do, although I must say the red ones give a particularly nice flavor to this.
• 2 cloves fresh garlic

• 1 15oz. can Cannellini beans
Aka White Kidney Beans. These are creamy, very mild and incredibly delicious. They are a staple in my house, used for many things from spreads to soups to pastas, etc. This is what is going to thicken our spread, doing what cream, cheese, eggs, etc. would normally be doing.
• 1 12oz. bag frozen artichoke hearts
Canned ones are ok too. Just make sure they were canned in water. I would use two 15 oz. cans to equal the frozen bag.
• 1 lemon
• 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
• Kosher salt & pepper

Directions:

Peel and chop up both the onion and garlic.

Everything is getting pureed in the end, so how you cut it isn’t important. Just make sure the pieces are about the same size so they cook at the same time.

In a skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Toss in onions. Give them a sprinkle of kosher salt and let cook about 5 minutes, until translucent and softened.IMG_3623

This process is called “sweating” the onions. And that is basically what they are doing – sweating out all their flavor and natural sugars.

Pour in bag of artichoke hearts. Add a pinch of salt. Sauté those for about 10 minutes, stirring often, or until artichokes are defrosted and heated through.

If you forgot to defrost them, you are in luck! No need to defrost here. Just toss in frozen. However if you did defrost, you just shaved a few minutes off your cooking time. We’re salting again because we need to season every layer of ingredients.

Add garlic and spinach. Sprinkle more kosher salt, pepper it to taste. Give it a mild stir.

Adding salt here will not only add flavor but will also help the spinach to wilt.

Cover and cook until wilted, stirring every couple of minutes. When wilted, remove from heat & set aside.

Open, drain and rinse can of beans.

In a blender or food processor, throw in the beans and the spinach-artichoke mixture.

Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the blender as well. Add a heavy pinch or two of kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Add the lemon’s zest if you can too! Sometimes I add more than one lemon’s juice. A good way to get most of the lemon’s juice out is to roll the lemon back & forth while pressing with the butt of your hand.

Pulse until mixture is fully incorporated and your desired consistency. Taste test and season accordingly.

If it is too thick for you, then try adding a little olive oil and pulsing again until smooth. Start with just a little, then add more as needed.

Serve & enjoy!

Like I mentioned, I use this on toast, even for breakfast with eggs on top. I use it for sandwich spreads but sometimes there is nothing better than a bowl of this dip with some sea salt pita chips!

Thank so much for visiting me this week! I hope you try this and/or any of my recipes. And if mine don’t work for you then find some that do! Just try to do what you can. It’s pretty hard to completely change overnight. If you are just starting out, take baby steps – eventually you will get there. Try just cooking one time a week and increase as you go. And I am always here, happy to help answer any questions you have.

Thank you for reading my recipe! I have also included a printable version of this recipe here without all my witty repartee (ha-ha!). I hope you enjoyed it enough to try it! If you have questions or comments feel free to email me at bradymunchblog@yahoo.com!
For more of my recipes and delightful commentary, please check out my blog BradyMunch on Word Press!

Much love & light to you all! See you on the flip side!
Erin Brady

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