Sunday, February 11, 2007

Luxurious Spinach-Artichoke-King Crab Dip

Spinach-Crab Dip is a casual comfort food that can be made so much more luxurious and healthful than anything served at chain restaurants across the country. This would be a wonderful appetizer to begin a Valentine's Day dinner for a small group of friends or just you and your sweetie. Picture your hands grazing as you both tuck into a communal bowl of this creamy dip, piling the salty crab meat and slick ribbons of spinach on thin slices of baguette as you open a bottle of wine and cook the rest of your meal together.

We made this dip for the Super Bowl and stayed casual with tortilla chips (at least they were the "fancy" chile-lime variety), but the ingredients are so lovely that you could make this a part of the intimate scene described above. I just described food as "so lovely;" you can tell I was watching Nigella Lawson today.

Anyway, not only is this lovely, but it is easy to put together too. King crab legs seem to be readily available right now, and we got an absolutely enormous one at Costco for a very reasonable price. All we did was defrost the frozen crab leg in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then plunged it into boiling water for a minute before cracking it open. A one pound leg yielded more than enough meat for this recipe, so we nibbled on the extra crab meat while we cooked. You can also use canned crab meat (make sure you are buying real crab kept in the refrigerated section).

I had some good gruyère on hand, and I like the mellow, nutty creaminess it added. Anything that melts easily would be tasty; aged cheddar or monterey jack come to mind. Canned artichokes in water make fast work of this, along with bagged spinach. I tore some of the larger pieces and removed the thick stems, but you could also chop it up. As I always do when cooking dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, I added a big pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. This spice is a good complement to greens, especially when there is cream involved.

This is a very creamy dip, but lowfat milk and light cream cheese keep it healthy. Whenever you choose to serve this, it is definitely a luxury that your waistline and your wallet can afford.

Luxurious Spinach-Artichoke-Crab Dip
A recipe from foodtv.com served as the template for this dip, but it underwent a lot of changes including the addition of the delicious crab.

Serves 4; can be doubled easily.

¾ c. lowfat milk
4 oz. light cream cheese
3 oz. gruyère cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
6 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped
8 oz. fresh spinach, thick stems removed and large leaves roughly chopped
1-14 oz. can artichoke hearts in water, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 tsp. corn starch mixed with 1 tblsp. water
1 c. crab meat

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cream cheese and gruyère, stirring often until cheeses are melted.

Add the garlic, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the scallions, then add the spinach, one large handful at a time if needed, until it all cooks down and fits in the pan. Stir until the spinach is wilted, then add the artichoke hearts. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until combined. If you want to thicken the dip more (it will set slightly after you take it off the heat), add another tsp. of cornstarch mixed with water.

Add the crab meat and stir until warmed through. Taste the dip and add more salt or pepper if you like. Serve right away or refrigerate and gently reheat in the microwave in short intervals, stirring after each. Sprinkle with a dash of cayenne pepper and/or paprika for color.

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7 comments:

Lis said...

That looks and sounds heavenly! I've got king crab in my freezer (am loving how it's not only in my grocery store all the time, but it goes on sale often!) and a girls' game day coming up... I'm so serving this! :D

Rachel said...

Lovely!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

How could it be anything but wonderful lovely with crab and spinach! Excellent.

Kristen said...

That looks too good! Oh my!

Christine said...

Oh, yeah! This is definitely one for my recipe box. Got local crab in my freezer right now. Thanks for the recipe julie!

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Cannot wait! My favorite ingredients in a dip that won't induce guilt (unless I eat the whole bowl, of course!) Thanks!

Julie said...

Yes, this dip is healthy and guilt free. I'm glad you found something you'll feel good about making! let me know how it turns out.
Julie