I wanted to make a Spinach Dip that I felt good about eating. And most classic Spinach Dip recipes contain a lot more than just spinach. And most of the "other ingredients" would make Popeye cringe, cover his squinted eyes and shout "Whoa!" in his rusty Popeye voice.
Lets make Popeye proud, shall we?...
Spinach Spinach Dip. I love the "spinach" part of spinach dip. Lots of spinach means lots of nutrients. And lots of guilt-free snacking. Just think: one giant 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach has only 125 calories and is packed with iron, potassium, vitamins, 15g of protein and 15g of fiber.
So how do I put the spinach back in the Dip???
Can a "Vegan Spinach Dip" recipe still be creamy, chunky, dippable and party-worthy? Oh yes it can...
Classic Spinach Dip isn't so vegan-friendly. As I perused the google-sphere of spinach Dip recipes the main ingredients of note were:
*spinach (thank goodness)
*cheese (lots of it)
*mayo (gobs of it)
*bread bowl or crusty bread blended into dip
*assorted veggies: scallions, water chestnuts, artichokes
So I played in the kitchen all morning on a quest for my perfect spinach dip recipe. After many tweaks here is my end result. Well actually three end results. My three "Spinach Dip" variations are:
1) Bean-y Spinach Dip: This route keeps my basic recipe in tact - only you add in a can of white kidney beans, aka cannellini beans. The beans add a creamier texture and a savory smooth flavor that cuts the brightness of the original spinach dip recipe. Plus the beans add protein, fiber and other healthy nutrients. You can use the "bean-y" method for any of the methods below.
2) Easy: For the "I need this dip in 5 minutes" crowd. No baking required. Simply blend, sprinkle on some vegan cheese and pop in the microwave for a minute or two to heat the dip and melt the top cheese. Easy. Delicious. Yes you can add beans - but you don't have to.
Quickie "Easy" Method:
3) "Cheez"-y: For the cheese lovers out there. You simply fold in another handful of cheese to your finished dip. Then heat in micro or bake. Your dip will be extra decadent and cheesy.
4) Slow Baked/Broiled: For that bubbly brown crusty cheese top. You can use cheez-y, bean-y or classic dip versions, add the cheese on top and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven on broil for 3-4 minutes to broil the top cheese layer. Super gourmet-looking and oh-so-yummy. The baked spinach dip is my favorite.
Spinach Sandwich. You could easily add this dip to a pita, kind of like you would hummus. Or spread it on sandwich bread. Call is a spinach dip sandwich. Add in some crunchy shredded carrots, diced tomatoes and a yummy spinach sandwich pita is served!
Yes! I think I put the "spinach" back in spinach dip...
Recipe Note on Optional Ingredients. A spinach dip is very easy to customize. So I basically achieved a basic recipe then added various flavor accents to the dip. You don't need to add all the optional ingredients - and you may want to toss in a few of your own ideas like water chestnuts, scallions or artichoke hearts. My version was quite bright, spinach-y and tasty.
For my optional ingredients, I added in the red pepper flakes and worchestershire sauce for a nice hint of flavor/heat. I also added in a small handful of rice crackers to thicken my dip just a tad. These are optional though.
Vegan Spinach Dip
vegan, makes about 5-6 cups
16 oz. organic frozen spinach, thawed
3 cloves of garlic and/or 1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or more lemon juice)
1 cup 'quick-soaked' raw cashews
1/2 cup raw parsley
1 cup raw arugula
2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1-2 Tbsp Vegenaise Spread or drizzle of EVOO (opt'l)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Topping: Sprinkle of Vegan White Cheese (Daiya)
More on Variations:
**My Favorite is adding the beans --> Bean-y: Add 1 can cannellini beans, drained
Cheez-y: fold in 1/4 cup Daiya vegan white cheese
Spicy: 1-2 Tbsp red pepper flakes, harissa or 1-2 tsp cayenne
Kicked up: 1 Tbsp vegan Worchestershire sauce
Thickener: Add a handful of rice crackers to thicken the texture a bit. Baking will also firm up the texture a bit by drying it out.
1. Thaw your spinach. I do this quickly by soaking bag in warm water.
2. Quick-soak your cashews in hot salted water - for about 20 minutes. This will soften them a bit to ease the blending process.
3. Add all your ingredients (not beans or cheese) to a food processor. Blend until smooth. You can then pulse in the beans (if adding). If adding additional cheese, fold that into the dip. Do a taste test and adjust seasoning to suit your preferences.
4. Pour spinach dip into a heat-safe serving dish. Top with a sprinkle of cheese (this is optional, cheese-free is perfectly delicious too). If you are in a hurry you can use the microwave "heat and serve" version. Otherwise, I recommend the slow bake/broil version as described above.
5. Heat/broil in oven as described above and remove to cool for a minute. Serve warm with veggie sticks, bread squares and rice crackers.
Serve! Many more photos below. Dive in and get inspired for spinach!...