More Creative Uses for Leftovers

3 Jun

I’ve been on this kick lately of using up leftovers and/or using things in multiple meals in different ways.  And since I’m currently on a kick of taking photos of my food, I thought I’d share another fun meal I made.

For my dad’s birthday party last week, we made artichokes from my yard – my family boils them in a pot with garlic, onions, dry basil, parsley, and bay, and cracked black pepper until they’re super-tender – and there were four left over.  So on Saturday, I decided to take the “meat” off those leftover artichokes and make an artichoke-spinach dip.

Now, personally, I like myself a nice cheese – but in a very small quantity.  I managed to keep a serving size of lasagna down to about an ounce of cheese, so you know that a traditional cheese-heavy spinach-artichoke dip won’t be in the stars for me!

Now, I’ll admit that I was working with a bag of frozen spinach (not fresh), but you can just chop up a bunch of fresh spinach and use that instead.  Likewise, if you suddenly feel the need to make this but don’t want to deal with cooking artichokes, you can always use frozen artichoke hearts (honestly they’re better than canned; Trader Joes carries them and they taste very fresh).  Just bring them to room temperature and mash them.

If you’re using fresh artichokes, cool them after cooking until they can be easily handled.  Larger artichokes yield larger hearts, but sometimes if you get an artichoke about the size of a small fist you can eat the entire thing (there is no “choke” inside).  Just make sure you take off any pointy bits, regardless of the size you use!

I cleaned my artichokes by taking off all the outer leaves.  I cut off the tops of the tender middle leaves and stirred them right into the mix, but I was very careful to scoop out all the thistly “choke” before mashing up the heart.  If you get an artichoke with a long stem, leave it on!  It tastes just as good as the heart – it’s just a little more fiberous.

I mashed the artichoke up in a bowl (it totaled about 3/4 cup) and added the thawed and drained spinach (it, too, totaled about 3/4 cup).  Then I added just a 1/4 cup each of mozzarella and parmesan cheese and mayonnaise and a few grinds of black pepper.  Next time, I plan to add some chopped raw shrimp and lots of sauteed garlic (we ended up eating this with shrimp scampi and the two flavors together were incredible). 

Then I just put the whole thing into a large baking dish (the wider the better; I like mine a little crispy!) and popped into a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I topped it with a little more mozzarella before cooking but I think panko would be just as nice.  I served it with tortilla chips but you can easily use little toasts or even spread it on a nice thick baguette.  The nice thing about this is that it serves 4-6 and is mostly veggies.  So you get your yummy dip and you get your veggies without getting too much “junk” food!

Before topping and baking

Before topping and baking

In the oven at 350-degrees (that's only about a handful of cheese on the top, but it gets all melty and beautiful!

In the oven at 350-degrees (that's only about a handful of cheese on the top, but it gets all melty and beautiful!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

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