Artichoke and Roasted Jalapeno Dip
I can exercise self control with most dips, but artichoke dip just gets me. What is it about it? I guess warm chunks of artichokes smothered in the richness of cream cheese, mayo, and grated cheese are just irresistible to me. Add jalapenos to the mix and I just go crazy. I love the spicy pop the jalapenos provide amidst all that richness. It’s just necessary. Since artichoke dip strips me of my will power, I had to do something drastic. I lightened it up. Yes, I reduced the fat wherever possible in my Artichoke and Roasted Jalapeno Dip, but it’s still every bit as indulgent as those other ones. Imagine, a light artichoke dip! That means I can have twice as much, I think. 😉
Not everybody I know appreciates a chunk of jalapeno lighting their taste buds aflame. If you like a lot of heat, just chop up a fresh jalapeno and toss it in. If you want a more mellow flavor, roasted jalapenos are the way to go. If you don’t want to make your own, just buy a 2 ounce can of chopped mild chiles (fire roasted are even better). I decided to roast my own, and it was very easy. Simply cut off each side of the jalapeno lengthwise around the center. Be careful of the seeds as that’s where the major heat comes from. You definitely don’t want any of those lurking around in your dip! I laid the peppers on a foil lined baking sheet, skin side up, and placed them under the broiler for a few minutes until the skins were black and charred. I placed the peppers in a bowl, and covered them with foil until they cooled. Once they were cool, I peeled off the skins. That’s it! I kept the roasted jalapeno in the fridge a few days until I was ready to make my dip.
In order to lighten up this dip, I chose to use reduced-fat Vegenaise (because I always have it), and Neufchatel cream cheese, which is always 1/3 less fat. Low-fat mayo instead of Vegenaise is fine, too. While most recipes call for 1 cup of cheese in the dip itself, I only used 1/3 cup grated cheese. I don’t skimp on the cheese here — it’s the real McCoy. I’d much rather use less of the real thing for bigger cheese flavor.
I also did something else that I thought would put this dip over the top. I mixed panko bread crumbs with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and sprinkled it over the top of the dip. I sprayed cooking spray over the panko/parmesan mixture so that it would get nice and golden brown. After 30 minutes in the oven it did brown, but I thought it needed a bit more color. I turned on the broiler, and then it really got toasty! Any time something needs more color, turn on the broiler.
Obviously, it didn’t take long for me to eat some. The taste testing is the benefit of being the cook, isn’t it? This dip is just sheer comfort food with a nice, toasty crunch. Serve it with whole grain crackers, chips, or what ever you favor for dipping. No matter what the occasion, this dip is sure to impress! 🙂
- 4 ounces Neufchatel ⅓ less fat cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup reduced fat Vegenaise or mayo
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- (1) 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, chopped into ½" chunks
- (1) jalapeno, roasted and coarsely chopped (or a 2 ounce can of mild green chiles)
- ⅓ cup grated cheese (I used a cheddar, jack, and mozzarella blend)
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8x8 or shallow gratin dish with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and Vegenaise until smooth (you can also use an electric mixer if the cream cheese is lumpy). Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the artichokes, jalapeno, and cheese, and stir until incorporated. Pour into the prepared dish and spread into an even layer.
- In a small bowl, stir the panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the dip. Spray the top of the panko/parmesan mixture with cooking spray so it will get nice and brown. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm with whole grain crackers, bread, your favorite dippers!
To roast the jalapeno pepper, preheat the broiler. Cut the sides of the pepper off lengthwise around the "core". Place the pepper skin-side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Broil on the middle rack of the oven until the skins are black and charred, about 3-5 minutes. Place in a bowl, and cover with foil. Once the peppers have cooled, remove the skins. They're now ready for your dip!
If the dip is done but it's not brown enough, place it on the middle rack of your oven under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until it's nice and toasty!