As soon as Summer Solstice comes along, my inner hostess has been sending me to the farmer’s market for fresh treats to feed friends and family. There is nothing like preparing a spread to nosh on over cocktails and chatter during these long summer evenings. Most people think that entertaining can be time consuming and costly but with a quick trip to the farmers market it can actually be quite the opposite.
My mother has always taught me to cook simply and cleanly. Never one to make overly-spiced fares, she has always opted for palette cleansing tastes like the zest of an orange in a salad dressing or fresh mint cooked with baby nugget potatoes. Her simple recipes and love of “backyard farming” has turned me into a green machine when preparing food. I believe that the best things in life are health and delicious food and when you shop local you can incorporate both.
Both vegetables offer unique, yet versatile flavours that can be translated into a number of dishes. I prefer an artichoke, especially when the hearts are marinated in oil and lemon with a hint of cilantro. When accompanied with a sweet Riesling from Blasted Church Vineyards it makes me think of being in the Mediterranean.
Here is a recipe for my mother’s delicious artichoke and spinach dip. Most of the ingredients can be found at the market and can be made in a pinch if you have unexpected guests. This dip is always a party favorite and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
– 1 large lemon
– 1 cup of artichoke hearts (plain or marinated in olive oil)
– 2 tsp of chili flakes
– 1 package of cream cheese
– 1 cup of fresh spinach (make sure you boil it first!)
– a couple pinches of fresh cracked pepper to taste
– You can also add a bit of mayonnaise if you like a creamier texture
1. Chop spinach and artichoke hearts into small pieces
2. In a large bowl combine spinach and artichokes with cream cheese and mix well
3. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the mixture
4. Add chili flakes and pepper to taste
This dip has a creamy consistency with a citrus taste. The artichokes add a bit of texture as does the spinach. You can try grating some fresh parmesan into the dip and pairing it with a fresh loaf of artisan bread. Remember that this dip is best served hot so toss it in the microwave for a couple minutes right before you serve it. Enjoy!