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Mediterranean Flavors: Spinach and Artichoke Dip

[Photograph: Sam Soboliewski]

Spinach and artichoke dip may have Mediterranean-inspired ingredients, but most of the recipes out there are American through-and-through. Frozen spinach? Thank you, Clarence Birdseye! Mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream? You betcha.

It appeals to our love of the hot and gooey, and I'll be the first to say it's great stuff. But I wanted to go a little lighter this time around, and the thought of baking two or three types of dairy in this heat just didn't sound all that tantalizing.

This version brings an all-American dip to its imagined Mediterranean roots. It relies on fresh spinach and garlic, olive oil and Greek yogurt. It's plenty rich, but it also tastes distinctly of its titular ingredients. And there's a tart, briny kick to contrast all the creaminess. Best of all? A few chips' worth doesn't make you feel like a nap.

Fresh spinach slow-cooked in olive oil becomes feathery and ethereal in a way frozen could never dream to be. Let it go limp but not mushy, as it'll continue to wilt as you build the dip. As for the artichokes, I get them marinated in a jar. They're the most convenient for dip-making purposes, and I think their brine tastes pretty good.

The creamy base is flexible—mayo, sour cream, or crème fraîche would all work to varying degrees—but strained yogurt adds a pleasant tang and substantial body, especially considering you only need half a cup. As it joins with the artichoke brine, they make magic. The only difficulty in this recipe is not overworking it in the food processor. Pulse it just enough to bring the dip together; there should still be visible chunks of spinach and artichoke in the mix.

This won't replace the family reunion standard preparation, but its relative lightness makes it perfect for a last-minute appetizer. Plunge in some pita chips and it'll be gone before you know it.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is a proud native of Queens, New York. He'll do just about anything for a good cup of tea and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.

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