The inspiration for this spinach and caramelized leek dip was an article in Food & Wine about how well potato chips pair with Champagne. That was all I needed to hear to rush out and buy some bubbly and a bag of chips to experience this newfound pairing.
And if you have chips, you need a good dip to go with it.
Looking in my refrigerator, I had a couple of leeks that needed to be used. And I knew I had several bags of frozen spinach….which seemed like a good dip foundation.
Swap Sour Cream with Greek Yogurt
Doing some research, any dip that put these ingredients to use involved either a brick of cream cheese or sour cream. There’s already a bit of guilt around potentially taking down a full bag of chips, I didn’t feel like piling on with cream cheese or sour cream.
So I wondered about Greek Yogurt. It’s one of the most popular dairy substitution items in recipes and we always have large tubs of Costco Greek Yogurt on hand.
Though while the yogurt makes a good replacement for consistency, it doesn’t quite have the same “richness” in the final product that sour cream brings, so I did use about 1 Tablespoon.
Caramelized Leeks are Delicious
To add some more depth, I caramelized the leeks in butter for about 30 minutes. (The biggest danger in doing this is that someone will find the caramelized leeks and snack on them before they make it to the dip.)
As with any recipe involving leeks, make sure that you wash them thoroughly:
- Chop off the stalks where the transition from white to green starts and then the other end with the root.
- Cut in half lengthwise, and then lengthwise again to quarter.
- Under warm running water, loosen each layer of the leeks and hunt for dirt and gravel that’s stuck inside.
You’ll be surprised what you find sometimes. This is really important for preventing food-borne illness as you never know what’s contained in farm soil….
Making the Spinach and Caramelized Leek Dip
Before you start cooking the leeks, cook the frozen spinach in the microwave. This way it will be cooled and safe to handle once the leeks are ready.
Thinly slice the leeks and put them in a sauce pan with butter over medium heat. Once they start to cook, but not browned, turn to the lowest setting and let them cook slowly.
If you let them cook nice and slow, in about 20 minutes they’ll start to develop a tan color. Closer to 30 minutes they should develop a richer brown color. Taste bits of them as they cook and you’ll notice how the flavor continues to intensify.
You can accelerate this process by putting a small pinch of sugar in with the butter right before adding the leeks. This is a shortcut that will caramelize the leeks faster, though it doesn’t always give the same depth of flavor.
At this point you’re ready to mix everything together and finalize your spinach and caramelized leek dip. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper at the end. Also, this is one of those dips that you’ll want to make the day beforehand or at least several hours in advance of eating to give the flavors time to meld.
And yes, the Champagne was a pretty good pairing with potato chips….
- 16 Ounces Chopped Frozen Spinach
- 3 Leeks
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 5.3 ounce Plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon Light Sour Cream
- Salt and Pepper and optionally, a pinch of sugar
- Cook the frozen spinach, transfer to a large mixing bowl and let it start to cool
- Heat a large saucepan over medium low heat and melt the butter. Wait until all of the foam has bubbled off
- Chop the ends off of the leeks, cut in half and rinse thoroughly between each layer to get all of the dirt out. Thinly slice the leeks
- Cook leeks over medium for 3-5 minutes, but don’t allow them to start to brown on the ends. When they become just translucent, reduce heat to medium and cook for another 20-25 minutes until they develop a deep, brown color
- Optional: You can accelerate the process by adding a pinch of sugar to the leeks, but you won’t get the same flavor. It does save about 10 minutes though.
- Remove from heat and allow the leeks to cool.
- When the spinach and leeks are both cool to the touch, combine them together and mix in the yogurt and sour cream. Season to taste.