Sometimes, you get stuck in a rut. Sometimes, you need a change.
This post is about three game-changers:
- A new camera! Since starting this blog, I’ve evolved from taking all the photos on my iPhone 4, to an iPhone 5, to my Fujifilm point-and-shoot. However, last week I bit the bullet and bought a full-blown DSLR. I’m starting to learn my way around my new Canon Rebel T3i and this is the first post featuring images shot on this camera.
- Smoked gouda. I learned recently that gouda comes in both smoked and unsmoked varieties, by unintentionally purchasing a wedge of applewood-smoked gouda. It was a happy accident, however. Smoked gouda has all the sharp tang of the regular, with an added layer of richness from the smoking–the applewood variety seriously smells like bacon! Gouda plays a key role later in Game-changer No. 3…
- The featured recipe in this post: Avocado Spinach Dip!
This recipe is based on the Green Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Full Belly Sisters. Paul and I loved the original recipe when we tried it as a sandwich, in part because its creamy deliciousness reminded us of spinach artichoke dip.
So, eventually I took that idea and ran with it. This re-imagining of the sandwich recipe contains a whole avocado, garlic powder and several kinds of cheese, and is broiled to achieve the bubbly, slightly crisp surface of a great spinach dip. The creamy avocado takes the place of less healthy ingredients like mayonnaise or cream cheese. And although I’ve never added artichokes, I bet they’d be an excellent addition!
Aside from its comfort food-level appeal, this recipe also has a few other things going for it. It’s super fast (try the shortcut in Step 6 to make it even faster), and a great way to clean out your cheese drawer! While I’d recommend including at least some gouda (smoked or not, your preference) and/or another good melting cheese like Monterey jack, this recipe is very forgiving and will work with just about any odds and ends you have lying around.
Avocado Spinach Dip
- 1 avocado
- 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
- about 4-5 oz assorted cheese (I think my favorite combination is the mix of smoked gouda, Monterey jack, mozzarella and Parmesan used below; I’ve also incorporated cheddar, brie, feta and other cheeses with great results!)
- 1-2 tsp hot sauce, or more depending on preference (I used Frank’s)
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- tortilla chips, for serving
- Add the spinach to the bowl of a food processor. (It helps to put the spinach in first so that the other ingredients weigh it down.)
- Cut open the avocado (step-by-step instructions below) and scoop the flesh into the bowl as well.
- Add the cheese (hold back about 2 tablespoons) and seasonings. Remember that the cheese and chips will be salty, so start with no salt or just a small pinch.
- Pulse the ingredients in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. Taste the dip and adjust seasoning–I recommend sampling it on a tortilla chip to check the salt levels.
- When you’re happy with the texture and seasonings, scoop the dip into two 1-cup, ovenproof ramekins.
- You have two options for heating the dip:
- The long way: Preheat the oven to 350F and bake the ramekins for 10-12 minutes until bubbling.
- The shortcut: Microwave the ramekins for about 2 minutes, rotating halfway through.
- Preheat the broiler and top the dip with the reserved cheese. Broil for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese on top is bubbly and beginning to brown. Serve with chips.