About a month ago, A sent me the link to a Buzzfeed video (on YouTube here) which went through all the steps of making this delicious-looking spinach and artichoke dip stuffed garlic bread. The original recipe came from Host the Toast, and as soon as I saw the video, I remember remarking to A, "Well, they did just recently announce a stuffed week for the cooking challenge." One of the easiest challenge decisions ever.
I mostly stuck to the recipe for the ingredients and steps, with few adaptations, trying to make sure ours would look and taste as good as the original. The ingredients I used were:
- 1 baguette ($1.69)
- 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.20)
- 14 oz can of artichokes, chopped & drained ($2.29)
- 10 oz bag of baby spinach ($1.99)
- 8 oz block of light cream cheese ($1.69)
- 1.5 cups of light shredded mozzarella ($2)
- 6 green onions, chopped ($0.43)
- salt and pepper, to taste ($0.05)
- 3.5 tbsp butter ($0.45)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced ($0.10)
- parmesan cheese, to top ($0.70)
- dried parsley, to top ($0.05)
This wasn't a cheap dinner, approximately $11.64, but it was definitely filling. The dip portion was about $8.65 alone. It made a good amount of dip. Not a huge amount, but should we really be eating that much cheese at once? No, probably not. Anyway, I priced out the dip part alone, because even if we didn't want to go through all the work of making the stuffed garlic bread again, we certainly might make the dip again. Might not be much cheaper, but it would save us a trip to TGI Fridays or potentially all the extra ingredients in the freezer case version.
The steps for making the dip stuffed garlic bread (with my few adaptations) were:
1. Cut baguette into 4 and use a long knife to cut out the insides. (I might have cut away too much bread, comparing mine now to the original. Maybe the dip would have stayed in the bread more easily when biting into it if I had left more bread?)
2. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat, and add chopped artichokes. After about a minute, add the baby spinach, and keep cooking and stirring until all the leaves have cooked down.
3. Add cream cheese and mozzarella cheese. Let the cheese melt and keep stirring to mix all ingredients together well. (It was kind of amazing how easily and quickly this turned into dip. I expected it to be harder to get everything to mix well, but it was super easy.)
4. Add green onions, salt, and pepper, keep stirring, and then remove from heat.
5. Stuff the bread with the dip. Since our baguette "quarters" were so large, I ended up doing some combination of loading the bread with the dip and then (at A's suggestion) lightly pounding it on the table to get the dip to settle further in. Reconnect each end "quarter" with its corresponding middle "quarter" on a cutting board.
6. If your baguette is as long as ours was (and therefore impossible to fit on any baking sheet we owned), stuff the open end of each half with some of the leftover bread insides.
7. Cut the baguette halves into slices about 1 inch thick, trying not to spill any dip out.
8. Transfer each baguette half into a foil wrap, and load both onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
9. Combine butter and garlic in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until butter is completely melted (45 seconds for us). Brush garlic butter (and minced garlic) over the bread, covering the entire exterior and trying to get it to drip between the slices. Add leftover buttered garlic to the top.
10. Close foil packages and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Open foil packages and bake another 5 minutes.
11. Top with parmesan and dried parsley while the bread is cooling.
We thought this was pretty good, and it was certainly hard to stop eating it even when we were full since it was so tasty. While we did like it a lot, we had 2 main issues with it.
First, most of the flavor came from the dip itself, and not the "garlic bread" part, which was surprising to us. The melted garlic butter smelled amazing, and when the bread came out of the oven, it made the entire apartment smell like garlic. But when we ate the bread, there was very little garlic flavor. Was it because our garlic was too old? Did we not use enough butter for the size of our baguette? How could there be so little garlic flavor when the scent of the garlic was so strong? I ate some of the little bits of garlic that fell into the foil and the flavor was definitely there, so my hypothesis is that the garlic butter flavor lost the battle to the spinach artichoke dip. The rich flavor of the dip was just that much more powerful than the garlic butter. A suggested that maybe we should just make the dip and garlic bread separately next time, and use the dip as an actual dip to keep more of the garlic bread flavor. We might try that (and add garlic powder to the dip, which we forgot they did in the Buzzfeed video), now that we have a good recipe for spinach artichoke dip.
The second issue was that the dip spilled out of the bread much more easily than we had expected. I'm not sure why we thought a creamy, warm dip would stay in its bread "frame" but we did. After the first couple of pieces ended up with bites of bread and a little dip, while the rest of the dip fell onto the plate, I changed up my eating style to try to avoid the dip falling out, but it was harder to eat than we expected. Maybe not the best snack for a party where people are just standing around with snacks. Fine for dinner for us since we ate it on plates, but maybe less of a party snack. That said, this was not so much of an issue with the leftovers that I reheated in the oven for lunch (350 degrees for 10 minutes). Those didn't come out piping hot, but in some ways that was better, because just being warm after a night in the fridge meant it all stayed together a little better.
Overall, we did really like the flavors of the dip and the stuffed bread. Definitely not a healthy dinner, even with some of the "lighter" substitutions, but it's not like we eat this way every night. (Our last 2 dinners were extremely healthy, like this chopped salad and lots of power greens.) Fun challenge.