You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing fruits and vegetables. —The Mgmt.
Ever since the CSA season ended, I've been looking for an opportunity to share a few thoughts with you about frozen vegetables. Namely, that if you choose them well and use them well, frozen veggies can be a thing of beauty—and whether you freeze them yourself or buy them in the supermarket, you should never be embarrassed to sing their praises from the rooftops.
The Super Bowl seems like just the occasion to start the conversation. I mean that in the most flattering way, because veggie lady or no, man, do I love me some Super Bowl food.
Along with corn and peas, spinach and artichoke hearts are some of my favorite frozen vegetables for quality and ease of use. They all hold up well to the freezing process and have a variety of uses, albeit different ones from what you'd do with the fresh versions. A good commercial frozen vegetable will contain just one ingredient and will have been flash-frozen right after harvesting. Because they are usually picked and preserved at their peak, frozen vegetables are usually at least as nutritious as the fresh ones you'd buy in the store.
When I make spinach lasagna or this Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip, I actually prefer frozen chopped spinach to fresh. In part it's because we often crave those foods in the winter, when fresh spinach is out of season. But it's also because the dense texture of frozen spinach works so well in these dishes.
What about you? What are your favorite frozen veggies, and how do you like to use them?
- 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 (10 ounce) box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or 1 (14-ounce) can)
- 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 ounce grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (about 1/2 cup)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces shredded Pepper Jack cheese (about 1 cup)
Adjust an oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Place thawed spinach in the center of a clean kitchen towel. Twist towel to ring out excess moisture, then transfer spinach to the bowl of a food processor.
Add the artichoke hearts, shallot, garlic, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and Parmigiano cheese to the food processor. Pulse just until well combined (you want to preserve a little texture), scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread the dip into a medium oven-proof dish or cast iron skillet and sprinkle with the Pepper Jack cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and dip is bubble around the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and serve with chips or crackers and crudités.