Spinach and Artichoke Dip is probably the one thing I’ve made more than anything else (other than, like, eggs or something). I’ve changed the ingredients a million times, but the version that I most try to imitate is the one I had over and over again at my favorite restaurant in Pensacola: McGuire’s Irish Pub.
I have so many memories at McGuire’s, some foggier than others, but all good. I have been there with some of the best friends of my life, my first date with Jon was there, and I remember taking Henry there for the first time when he was just a tiny baby. I went there for New Year’s Eve in 11th grade and saw Joe Scarborough (my first celebrity sighting). He walked right by my group as he was leaving, and I said, “Hey, it’s Chandler Bing!” He looked at me like I was an idiot, but I thought I was hilarious.
I can’t really do this place justice if you haven’t been there, but it’s got low, dark-lit, multiple rooms covered in dollar bills. When you go there, it’s a rite of passage to sign a dollar and have it stapled to the wall or ceiling there. The last time I went was about 2 ½ years ago, and our waiter said there was over $1 million dollars hanging from the walls and ceilings. They play traditional Irish music all the time unless they have live music (and sometimes even the live music is Irish bagpipes!).
It attracts everyone from tourists to business people to college kids to lifelong Panhandle residents. The menu has a huge variety, and the portions are just plain huge, but comically so. Some of my favorite things to order were Bouillabaisse, Shepherd’s Pie, and their cheeseburgers (I’m not even a burger person, but theirs are the kind you’ll start eating burgers for).
But my favorite thing of all time is the Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Of course I could never get a full admission of everything that goes into the dip, I did pull bits and pieces from various servers over the years and probably 100 times I ordered it (really not an exaggeration).
McGuire’s serves theirs with fried flour spinach tortilla chips (seriously!). But at home I usually serve it with regular tortilla chips or pita chips, plus some raw veggies to feel less guilty about indulging. So with all that backstory, here’s my very best version of Spinach and Artichoke Dip.
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Serves: 12 appetizer portions
Difficulty Level: Easy
2 blocks of frozen chopped spinach
24 ounces (3 blocks) of reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup of Daisy full fat sour cream
1/3 cup light mayo
1 cup of freshly grated Asiago cheese, divided in half
8 ounces of freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese
4 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1-14 ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons of half and half
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the blocks of frozen spinach in increments until it is completely thawed. Set aside, and let it come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, cut the blocks of cream cheese into chunks, and microwave for 1-2 minutes until it’s softened.
- Once the spinach is at room temperature, put in into a thin cloth towel, and wring out all the water. Twist and squeeze over and over until you’ve removed as much water as possible.
- Break up the spinach with your fingers and add it to the cream cheese.
- Next add the sour cream, mayo, ½ cup of the asiago cheese, all of the Monterrey Jack cheese, minced scallions, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Mix all the ingredients together until they’re all incorporated.
- Drain the artichoke hearts much as possible, and add to the mixture.
- Add the half and half and melted butter.
- Fold everything together gently until well incorporated.
- Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread the dip evenly into a 9X13 casserole dish, and top with the remaining asiago cheese. **(see cook’s note)
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the dip is hot, and the cheese is starting to bubbly.
- Serve hot.
**Cook’s Note: You can stop here and refrigerate it until ready to bake and serve (up to 3 days in advance). It just may take slightly longer if you’re baking it from a chilled temperature.