I have a weird relationship with casseroles.
I’ve had some great ones, don’t get me wrong. My mom makes a cauliflower gratin for Thanksgiving that, if it counts as a casserole, is one of the best I know.
I also love a good breakfast casserole, the silver bullet that makes hosting brunch compatible with sleeping in.
But here’s the thing.
There’s just something undeniably 1950’s America about the casserole. Wikipedia has them coming onto the scene in 1866, rising to popularity in the 50’s and then becoming more pedestrian in the 70’s.
So now I think it might be time for me to share my disdain for certain things I deem to be excessively “American.”
I don’t want to be misunderstood: I love this country. I’m proud to be an American, I’m all about the 4th of July, I cry every time I see a commercial about veterans.
But there are just some things that feel wholly American to me in a gauche, graceless, polyester, plastic-y BAD kind of way. Here are some of those things:
- Cottage cheese
- Canned pineapple
- Sour cream
- Frozen corn
- Cream cheese
I don’t expect you to agree with me. I don’t even necessarily agree with me, enjoying many things made out of mayonnaise and frequently using tupperware. But there’s something about them that just bothers me.
Many of these things also find their way into casseroles, or alongside casseroles, or you put your casserole inside of them (see #4). And so I think it’s the combination of those facts that lead me to look down on the lowly casserole, turn my nose up at it even.
So, what does this have to do with spinach artichoke dip? It’s not even truly a casserole – after all, it’s a dip. Why did I bother to write this all down, boring you with a rambling, somewhat offensive diatribe?
It’s because, delicious though it is, spinach artichoke dip contains what have to be the most American ingredients of all, made in the most American way: dump mayonnaise, sour cream, processed cheese, frozen spinach and canned artichokes into a bowl and mix them together, bake them, top them with more cheese and eat them as a dip.
If you’re still reading this, you might not even bother to read the recipe below and just interpret what you will from the above.
But I am sharing the recipe regardless of personal weirdness because it’s an indisputable fact that spinach artichoke dip is delicious.
Even I can’t deny it. So in honor of Presidents Day, (get it? American?) I say you throw the thing together, bake it, and enjoy some cheesy goodness heaped on slices of toasty bread.
Spinach artichoke dip
(Adapted from Food.com)
2 cups Parmesan cheese, plus extra to top
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, chopped and drained of excess liquid
1 (14 ounce) jar of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup cream cheese, softened (in microwave briefly or by leaving out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 small clove garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together Parmesan, spinach and artichoke hearts.
In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise and garlic. Add the spinach mixture and stir to combine.
Spread in a baking dish, top with more Parmesan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
Spinach artichoke dip: http://www.food.com/recipe/spinach-artichoke-dip-1209