December 23rd, 2011

{recipe} Spinach Feta Dip—Spicy Optional!

Spinach Feta Dip

By now you know that I’m working with Kraft (and my sister!) on the Huddle to Fight Hunger, the Kraft Foods initiative to raise money for Feeding America to provide 25 million meals to hungry Americans. The experience has been even more rewarding than I expected. Not only have I helped raise funds (Kraft donated 1,000 meals for every one of my Huddle recipes), but I’ve also learned a lot about how folks with less access to information about food think about and buy groceries.

As part of the Huddle to Fight Hunger, the Hungry Sister has been teaching me all about tailgating, which has given me a glimpse into a food culture so different than my own. I’d like to think that I’ve given her a glimpse into my food culture, too, and that, together, we’ve refined an understanding of what’s important (healthy habits, tasty food, staying on budget) and how different families can keep those things in mind in different ways.

In the process, we’ve also come up with a way to satisfy candy bar cravings using only whole ingredients (a from-scratch dip inspired by Snickers) and compromised on ingredients for a roast that I never would have come up with on my own, but am sure glad that we made (Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin). To close things out, we came up with a healthy and (somewhat) lighter feta dip—that can easily be turned into a spicy feta dip!—inspired by one of my sister’s favorite foods: spinach pie.

We’re Greek and as any Greek can tell you, buttery layers of phyllo are one of the many things that make spinach pie a near perfect food. Though it’s made with healthy ingredients, the truth is that spinach pie is, ultimately, pretty decadent. Continuing with our Huddle approach, we wanted to come up with a healthier take on spinach pie and, for tailgating, what could be better than a creamy dip for chips?

We started, of course, with Breakstone’s sour cream, one of the ingredients on which Kraft and I agreed. To kick up the health factor, though, we reduced the sour cream, skipped the Philadelphia cream cheese (this time) and went for Breakstone’s cottage cheese since it’s healthier, lower in fat (if you use the light kind) and has more protein.

We didn’t blend the ingredients together the first time around—I thought that the chunks of cottage cheese would blend in with the chunks of feta—but found that the dip was much better when we did. Once we got that down, the rest was easy-peasy: add green onion, spinach, lemon and feta—just like when you’re making spinach pie. Dill makes a nice addition, too, but, just like when you’re making spinach pie, it’s an optional kind of thing. If you leave it out and want to go spicy, swirl (don’t blend) in a little bit of harissa. SO. GOOD!

This recipe is great for tailgating and also as a holiday dip. It’ll satisfy healthy eaters and also ones who don’t care as much. It’s something you can easily make whether you shop at Whole Foods or Walmart. It’s the perfect way for me and the Hungry Sis to end the Huddle to Fight Hunger series. And, may I suggest the perfect way for you to help end this series?

Taking the following steps helps raise money for Feeding America. That’s right: helping feed the hungry is as easy as a couple of (free and easy!) clicks so, please, as we enjoy the final weeks of the holiday seasons, help out.

1. Like the Kraft Foods Huddle to Fight Hunger page. Doing this donates a single meal.

2. Play the “2-Minute Trivia Drill” to donate more meals for every point you earn. Watch out—this game’s addictive! It also makes it really easy to get Kraft to put their money where their mouth is!!

3. Help spread the word by posting about the Huddle to Fight Hunger on your own Facebook page or tweet with the hashtag #KraftFightHunger. Remember: every “Like” is a meal and every single game has the potential to donate up to 9 or more (if you beat my high score!) meals.

Then get cooking!

Spinach Feta Dip
(can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)*
makes about 2 cups

1 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 green onions, cleaned, trimmed & roughly chopped
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese, divided
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste
Dill, to taste (optional)
Harissa, to taste (for a spicy version; optional)

1. Add sour cream and cottage cheese to the bowl of a food processor or to a high-powered blender and puree until smooth.

2. Add spinach, green onions and half of the feta to the sour cream mixture and pulse until spinach is well incorporated and no longer has a stringy texture.

3. Remove mixture from your food processor or blender and stir in remaining feta, lemon juice, salt, pepper and, if using, dill. To make a spicy version add a few small dollops of harissa around the top of the dip and gently swirl it in. Serve with pita, pita chips or potato chips.

*Note: Puree a small portion of the final dip into a totally smooth consistency for little ones who are not yet managing chunks. This, alone, does not make a great baby meal, but is wonderful combined with chick pea, quinoa, oat puree, or even mashed avocado!

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