A Retro Spinach Dip Redo and Some Falafel On the Side

This resulted in a "Thumbs Up" from my pottery peeps and was demolished in short order!

This Retro Spinach Dip Redo resulted in a “Thumbs Up” from my pottery peeps and was demolished in short order!

Note: These two don’t really have anything to do with each other, but are both some good eats to share.

I adore Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, and this week I made a huge batch of baked falafel. I had never had falafel baked before, always fried, but these were terrific in a pita alongside a Greek salad (with feta of course) for dinner, and again topping a lunch salad with tahini dressing drizzled over it. This is another of Mark Bittman’s recipes, and you can find it here. I highly recommend this as well as another recipe he lists at this same link for his Spiked Guacamole, which I made last night but didn’t photograph…it’s awesome, too! I have to say that these falafel are as good baked as those I have had fried, with a nice, crispy texture, a great taste and they freeze beautifully, too!

Drizzled and ready to eat with the tahini dressing!

Drizzled and ready to eat with the tahini dressing!

It’s been feeling very summer-ish here during the past week, and the hot weather has made me crave some cool summer dips, just for fun.  What I particularly had in mind was creating something to take to my pottery class for us to nosh on, and I came up with this Retro Spinach Dip Redo. My inspiration was born of an amalgamation of several yogurt sauces I’ve had—basically a redo of the ancient spinach dip recipe that was so popular when I was growing up. Yes, you know the one I mean, made from the vegetable soup mix combined with mayo and sour cream, served in a bread bowl?

Cool, creamy green goodness.

The result is a lighter, healthier version, that doesn’t taste “healthy” at all. While it does remind you of the old school version, it is a bit different. This one has no water chestnuts, no mayo and no sour cream, but it does have a great mouth feel, and lots of texture and flavors that build as you eat it. Plus, it’s almost as easy to make as the soup mix version, but it’s much better for you! And here’s a little trick: Whenever you combine olive oil with plain yogurt, it emulsifies the yogurt, giving it more of a mayonnaise-like texture and making it less likely for the water to separate. This is a great tip for making tzatziki sauce, too.

The verdict from my pottery class (my test subjects) was that this is a winner, so I promised to share my Retro Spinach Dip Redo on the blog. Enjoy, and I hope that your week has started off swimmingly!

Retro Spinach Dip Redo
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 very large shallots finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, grated
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-10 oz. package of frozen, chopped spinach, preferably organic, cooked according to the package directions (I microwave mine), then drain it and press all the moisture out
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 3/4 cups of plain Greek yogurt, whole or 2% (I used 2% Fage yogurt)

Put all ingredients in a small bowl and combine until well mixed. Place the dip into the fridge and let the flavors blend for an hour or two. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with pita or tortilla chips, or raw veggies if you like!

rose1On another note, this is a rose bush my husband gave me many years ago for Valentine’s Day. It has struggled in our front yard all these years, tolerating the drought and maybe giving me one beautiful rose each year…sometimes two when I’m lucky. This year, it has 7 blossoms on it! I think it likes all the rain.

Sadly, I can't remember the name of this rose, but I think it is a tea rose...sweet thing!

Sadly, I can’t remember the name of this rose, but I think it is a tea rose…sweet thing!

*****

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42 thoughts on “A Retro Spinach Dip Redo and Some Falafel On the Side

  1. I love spinach dip so I’m going to give this a try for sure; thanks for the great tip about the EVOO, I’ll be using it for sure.
    What a gorgeous rose, I’ve never had much luck but I do appreciate their loveliness. Perhaps Chgo John might be able to tell you the name if it.

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    • I don’t have lots of luck with roses, either! I have one other out back which is a “Lady Stella Grey”, a yellow tea rose climber that a friend gave me when my cat named Stella died many years ago. Basically, if they can’t fend for themselves in my yard, then they don’t survive…but they sure are lovely when they do! So, yes, perhaps John can tell me what I’ve got! 🙂 Thanks, Eva and hope you like the dip!

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      • Well, that rose is just gorgeous for sure, luck or no luck. It’s nice to have something to remember your beloved pet by, I’m going to rename my lamb’s ear in the garden for my dear pet bunny Dustie, her ears were just so soft!
        I’m making the dip tonight, I’ll let you know how it works out.

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  2. There are so many healthy things we can do which really don’t effect taste in lots of recipes. The baked falafel and the yogurt spinach dip being very good examples.

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    • We’ve been having lots of fun with this new book of his, Norma. Some folks say it’s too limiting with only 60 recipes, but they are all great and jumping off points for so many things. So far, I’ve never been disappointed in a recipe from Mark Bittman. This rose made me so happy this year. It had one bud initially that some critter snapped off before it could bloom. We thought that was it for this year…then this! 🙂

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  3. The roses are beautiful and I’m so glad you are having a bumper crop of them this year – all good things come to those who wait! I love the look of your dip and yes, it would be very refreshing on a lovely hot day xx

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  4. How I remember spinach dip! Every party, potluck, barbecue, and get-together, no matter how large, had at least one bowl of spinach dip. Rarely was any left over, too. Glad to see you updated it, making it a bit more healthy. Great tip, too, about using olive oil with yogurt. Must remember that. Thanks for the recipe and the tip.
    I did some googling for your tose. I agree that it’s a hybrid tea rose and it looks like there are about 20 petals to the bloom. There are quite literally dozens of red roses with those characteristics. I have 2 types in my yard. No matter the name, Betsy, it’s a real beauty! I hope it continues to bloom all season for you.

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    • You are most welcome for the recipe and the tip, John. I hope it’s useful. I have used up to a 4 to 1 ratio of yogurt to oil in tzatziki and it still works, although you really have to work the oil into the yogurt. But even a tablespoon or more will thicken the yogurt nicely. 🙂 You were so kind to google the rose. Somewhere around here, I probably have it’s tag. It’s like hunting for a needle in a haystack. But the main thing is that it seems to be happier this year and has been so pretty. 🙂

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  5. Great dip about the oil in the yogurt and lovely dip 🙂 It does indeed look like a tea rose – roses are pretty hardy, you could try moving it this autum to see if it likes a different spot? Cut it right back first then just stick it in a spot that has sun and shade.

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    • Ah yes, well the sun part of the sun and shade is the difficult thing. I am sure that if the rose had ever had a sunnier spot, it might have done better, but we just don’t have any sunny spots in our yard. It does get morning sun and that’s about it. But, I shall look around and see if a better spot presents between now and autumn, thanks, Tanya!

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  6. Hello Betsy.
    I love all the suggestions for the flafel ! we usually eat it in sandwiches or dipped in some hummus. It’s about time for refreshing changes 🙂
    I really like the healthy spinach dip and the tip about the olive oil. Thank you for sharing those and the pictures of your beautiful roses

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  7. There’s a lot here to comment on Betsy. I’m crazy for all those Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors too. (top on my list) Love falafel and will have to go check out Bittman’s recipe when I leave here. Your retro redo dip sounds perfect about now. And your roses – what a lovely thing to get a rose bush for Valentines day instead of a soon-to-be-wilted-and-tossed bouquet! Love that lasts!

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    • Thank you so much, Spree! Those falafel are good, and I know this because even my husband said so. We froze some and every time we thawed and ate them he kept saying so. Now I have to make some more next week! Am making the dip again in just a few minutes to take to a party this evening, and the roses keep going and going. Hope you are doing well, Spree. That reminds me, I haven’t seen your posts lately and wonder if my feed has stopped for some reason. It seems like I have to renew everyone periodically…weird. Have a great weekend! 🙂

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  8. I don’t think I ever even had spinach in a dip before, but I like it a great deal so definitely something to give a try I think! Baked falafel sound good too – both times I tried to make them before they fell apart in the hot oil, lol!

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    • This “dip” actually makes a good spread for a sandwich, too. It combines well with tomatoes, cucumbers and feta! I’ve got to make these falafel again. It was so wonderful to have some I could pull out of the freezer and warm up at a moment’s notice. I think they held up better than fried ones would in the freezer, too. Definitely a “keeper” recipe. Thanks, Charles!

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  9. Hello Betsy, your roses are gorgeous. I love some of those retro dishes like spinach dip but this one has a complete makeover and sounds so refreshing. I am sorry I missed your falafel recipe so on my way to check that out now. I hope you are having a super week. Take Care, BAM

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    • Hey BAM, and thanks on all counts. We just had a tree and our house struck by lightning yesterday, so it hasn’t been a banner week, but we are all okay including cats and the house can be repaired. It’s put a crimp in my internet surfing and cooking, though! Hope you are having a good week and you take care, too. ~Betsy

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  10. I have decided Greek Yogurt is a bit of a miracle food. It has pinch hit in so many recipes and turned them from heavy and fattening to light and tangy. I haven’t thought of resurrecting my old spinach dip recipe Betsy. YOU ARE A GENIUS! 🙂

    The falafel looks fantastic too. I have not tried to make them before and think it might just be the perfect dish to make for the family. We are having some crazy heat right now and those look filling but not so heavy. Great post!

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    • Thanks Geni! I’m in total agreement with you about the yogurt…I pretty much sub it for sour cream all the time and cook with it as much as possible! Those falafel are pretty great and I want to make some more soon for us and the freezer, once I can get back in my kitchen! 🙂

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