In our pursuit of the ultimate delicious bite, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of fancy gourmet ingredients and showy culinary jargon. When you spend so much time reading about the latest food trends and discovering new techniques, your mind becomes seduced by the exotic. You spend weeks hunting down that elusive vegetable you saw on someone else’s blog, and you pay $45 for imported spices you don’t even know how to pronounce. But submitting to this seduction is not bad at all – we are after all, chefs, and chasing after the bizarre and unknown is our way of pushing our limits and challenging ourselves to be better.
But once in awhile, we can’t neglect that solid good dishes can come out of simplicity, whether it’s something straight from the farm, or straight out of the package. Yes, I’m talking about packaged goods. I may be biased because I work in the industry, but if you only knew the amount of labor and scrutiny we give to each innovation, you would appreciate that although they take the fun out of making things from scratch, they truly simplify your life and if you pick the right brands, your food will end up just as good.
So the recipe I want to introduce you to today is a twist on the popular Spinach Artichoke Dip – Spinach Artichoke Party SQUARES – made from mostly packaged goods. I first had the honor of tasting this simply delicious dish when I visited Brian’s parents for Thanksgiving 2 years ago. Their friend Connie, whom I knew as a superb chef, brought over these party squares and I was shocked/suprised to see the components of the recipe, because it tasted so sophisticated and complex that you would’ve never guessed that the hero ingredient is Lipton Vegetable Soup Mix.
It’s a great party pleaser dish you can whip up in an instant, when you feel in the mood to ditch the exotic and return to the simple. After all, everyone would rather hang out with the down-to-earth fun-lover over the stuffy highbrow bore.
Spinach Artichoke Party Squares:
- 1 package Lipton/Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
- 1 cup Crème Fraiche (can be substituted with a combo of mayo or sour cream)
- 2 packages Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
- 10 oz box Chopped Spinach, drained
- 14 oz can Artichoke Hearts
- 4-8 oz can Water Chestnuts
- 4-6 oz grated Monterey Jack/Havarti/Fontina/Mozzarella cheese
- 1 handful of grated Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine soup mix, mayonnaise and sour cream and set aside.
- Unroll crescent roll dough and press into a baking dish, making sure to seal perforations and press dough up sides of baking pan to form a crust. Bake 10 minutes or until very lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, drain spinach and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Chop spinach, artichoke hearts and water chestnuts.
- Mix in the soup mix, crème fraiche, and grated cheese. Spread evenly over partially baked crust. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake another 10-12 minutes or until heated through. Cut into squares and get the party started!