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Hot Artichoke-Spinach-Cheese Dip Recipe

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 @ 03:12 PM Karen Jean Matsko Hood

Christmas parties always have a smorgasbord of wonderful, tasty dishes to enjoy. They include not only sweets, like cookies and candies, and flavorful and aromatic drinks, but they also generally include crackers, cheese balls, and tasty dips. The following dip recipe is so cheesy and fragrant, people will keep coming back for more!

Commercial Parmesan cheeses available in North America differ from Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is produced in Italy in certain provinces. Only cheese produced in these specific provinces can be labeled as Parmigiano-Reggiano. In North America, there is no outside body regulating or supervising the quality of the raw ingredients or of the production process. In North America the cheese is aged for a shorter time and is produced using pasteurized milk. American Parmesan is mechanically pressed to expel excess moisture, whereas the Italian version is not. Parmigiano-Reggiano curds are cut into fragments the size of wheat grains. These smaller curds drain more effectively. Parmigiano-Reggiano on average contains two-thirds less salt than the average Parmesan.

There are different types of Romano cheese. True Romano cheese is made from sheep’s milk (pecorino romano) or goat’s milk (caprino romano), although mass produced versions, as in the United States, are often made from cow’s milk (vacchino romano). Pecorino Romano is sharp and tangy. Caprino Romano, the goat’s milk version, has an extremely sharp taste. Vacchino Romano is very mild in taste. Most of the Romano cheeses made in the United States are made from cow’s milk or with a mix of cow’s milk and either sheep or goat milk.

The combination of Parmesan and Romano cheeses in this Hood Family favorite dip gives it an extra punch. Enjoy adding this dip to your holiday spread!

Hot Artichoke-Spinach-Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.), softened

¼ c. mayonnaise

¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese

¼ c. grated Romano cheese

1 clove garlic, peeled, minced

½ tsp. dried basil

¼ tsp. garlic salt

1 can artichoke hearts (14 oz.), drained, chopped

½ c. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained

¼ c. shredded mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease small baking dish.
  3. In medium bowl mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt, and pepper.
  4. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
  5. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.
  6. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Yields: 12 servings.

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