The BEST spinach dip there ever was and ever will be EVER and its gluten-free!

spinach dip The best ever

Last week, Steve of Gluten-free Steve asked a number of gluten-free bloggers a number of questions. The whole event can be found on his blog and is definitely worth the read. One of the questions he asked was: “What is your favourite gluten-free snack recipe?”. Well, he actually had a fill in the blank questionnaire which said: “My favorite gluten-free snack is:” but that is beside the point.

The actual point is, I gave Steve the recipe for the best spinach dip ever and I didn’t include a photograph! It was sad. So, I have re-posted the recipe (also available at Steve’s Blog) along with the photo (above) and a warning. The dip looks odd and green — two things that turn people off of the dip when they first encounter this delight. You’ll find that at a party, people will take small spoonfuls when they first approach the food table in order to be polite, but once they try the dip they go back for seconds, thirds and fourths. There won’t be much left at the end of the night. Because of this, I always make a double batch. My photo shows a double batch. I’m not sure the exact dimensions of my dish, but its roughly the size of a 8.5×11 inch (21.6×28 cm) piece of paper. Maybe a little smaller (definitely not larger).

The BEST spinach dip there ever was and ever will be EVER!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (250 mL) (approximately one package) cream cheese. Yes, you can use light or fat free.

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated but one time I was out and found that the powdery processed stuff also works in a pinch. Its not as good, but it works.

  • 1 rounded tablespoon (15-17 mL) freshly grated Romano cheese (again, the powdery stuff works but won’t be as tasty.)

  • 1 rounded tablespoon (15-17 mL) very finely chopped sweet red bell pepper.

  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) garlic powder. DO NOT use garlic salt. Alternatively you can puree or finely mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

  • 2 green onions (scallions) white and greens finely chopped

  • 1/2 package frozen finely chopped spinach; (those frozen square blocks) thawed and squeezed dry. Do not use if the spinach is wet! You’ll ruin your dip.

  • 1/2 cup grated medium cheddar – old cheddar is too strong

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) of cayenne pepper — less if you don’t like spicy dip. I usually add 1/2 the regular amount if I’m serving to people who are very…er… meat and potatoes. You know, the sort of people who think anything other than salt and pepper is fancy — they tend not to like dishes with an edge.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Mix ingredients (except spinach) with a hand or stand mixer. If using a hand mixer that isn’t very powerful, you might want to consider microwaving your cream cheese for a minute or two. This will soften it up so you do not burn out your motor.

  3. Fold in spinach

  4. Transfer to the oven-proof dish in which you plan on serving this dip. If desired, sprinkle the top with some more cayenne pepper for decoration.

  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes. You’ll know the dip is ready when the edges begin to bubble.

  6. Remove from oven and serve with gluten-free nachos, gluten-free flat bread, raw vegetables, gluten-free breadsticks or gluten-free pumpernickel-like bread.

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Spicy bean, pesto and vegetable soup, with swiss chard – a gluten-free, vegan recipe

bean soup editedI was in the mood for soup so I whipped up this in no time flat! Super easy to make, and full of flavour!

Add less vegetable broth if you prefer — the soup becomes more chili-like.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large French shallots (or regular onions if you haven’t any shallots), roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 leeks, greens removed, whites sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 large can crushed or diced tomatoes, preferably salt-free, do not drain!
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable stock, preferably salt free
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in cubes
  • 1 can Romano beans, drained and rinsed (2 cups (500 mL) dried, soaked overnight if you haven’t any canned)
  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (2 cups (500 mL) dried, soaked overnight if you haven’t any canned)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped very fine
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried
  • 1/4 tsp chili oil, or more if you like things really spicy. Chili powder can be used if you don’t have chili oil, just add slowly until you have the taste you desire.
  • 1 tbsp pesto, canned or homemade
  • if you used salted tomatoes or vegetable broth, you probably don’t need any salt. If you used salt-free, add salt to taste. Frankly I don’t think this recipe needs any salt.
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • rice pasta (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and leeks, saute until soft.
  2. Add tomatoes, the juice from the can, the stock to the pot, the parsley and the thyme. Bring to a low boil.
  3. Add vegetables to the pot, simmer until carrots are soft, time will depend on how thick you sliced the carrots
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (but NOT the rice pasta) to the pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile boil the rice pasta as per package instructions.
  6. To serve, add a bit of the rice pasta to the bottom of the bowl, pour soup over top of the rice. Don’t forget to discard the thyme springs! Nobody wants them in their bowl.
  7. ENJOY!

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Vegetable Stock- a step-by-step method

the bare min Yum! Vegetable stock. Canned vegetable stock cannot even begin to flavour your food as well (or as cheaply) as homemade stock. It is so versatile and so easy to make that I honestly don’t know why anybody would buy the stuff in cans. You don’t have to go running to the store to buy vegetables to make vegetable stock. USE WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE HOUSE! You can even use vegetable scraps to make the stock. Carrot tops, ends of celery, broccoli stems etc. can be frozen and then pulled out to make your stock. Yes, I know those items also make excellent compost, and if you’re an avid gardener (like me!) you will just go to the store and buy vegetables to make stock in order to make sure that your Summer harvest tomatoes are well fed. My point is you don’t have to throw anything out, you can use scraps, you can usually just use what you have in your fridge.

That being said, there is a bare minimum of ingredients you need to make a reasonable stock. I do realize that the more types of veg you put in your stock, the richer it will taste, but you can still make veggie stock that is far superior to anything canned with a few simple ingredients. The picture (above) illustrates my point. To make a vegetable stock all you need are three carrots, three stalks of celery, a garlic clove, a sweet onion (but any type of onion will do), enough water to cover the cut up veg, a cutting board, a knife and a stock pot. There are no seasonings like salt or pepper in a stock. You are going to use this stock to make another recipe, that is why it is a stock — it is never served on its own! If you add salt/pepper/other spices you have made a broth. Yup. Salt and pepper are really the only difference between a vegetables stock and a vegetable broth. This is not true of chicken/beef/pork broth stock. Animals stock is made from bones where animal broth is made using the whole carcass (or pieces of carcass) meat included. But I digress, you really want to know how to make stock! (more below the cut)

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