That Appetizer Heather Made For Thanksgiving

I met my friend Heather about seven-ish years ago when her husband was Alex’s very first soccer coach. The kids on that team were so small that most of them just found a spot on the field and pointed at airplanes, and if they happened to kick the ball, they’d usually spend a minute or two jumping up and down afterwards. A couple of those young’uns brought some real focus and skill to the mix, but by and large the kids were playing soccer for two very important reasons: 1) an opportunity to run through the parent tunnel after everyone high-fived the opposing team, and 2) the post-game snacks.

You really can’t underestimate the motivational power of a bag of Cheez-Its and a Capri Sun.

After that first soccer season I’d run into Heather from time to time; we’d see each other at the soccer fields or at basketball camp or in the parking lot at school. And somewhere along the way – a couple of years ago, maybe – we discovered that not only do we both love music, we love the same music. Plus, we share a nearly identical level of obsession over really good lyrics, so every time we’re around each other we usually have a moment that can best be described as ENGLISH MAJOR NERD POWERS: ACTIVATE. It’s a delightful thing.

Heather and I also share a love for dips and appetizers in all their wondrous forms, and before she and her sweet family came over to our house for Thanksgiving last week, she told me that she had a few appetizers in mind for Thanksgiving Day. She absolutely did – along with a turkey, a ham, two salads and four packs of rolls.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you ever find yourself with a broken ankle, Heather is the kind of friend who will show up with an array of serving pieces and platters and groceries and basically take care of the bulk of the Thanksgiving meal.

One of the appetizers that Heather brought over last week was a spinach dip unlike any I’ve ever had, and when I tell you that it was the hit of Thanksgiving 2014, I mean it. People RAVED. David actually fixed me a little plate of it in case it was all gone before I got a chance to taste it, and y’all, it is a home run. It’s light and flavorful and different and absolutely delicious. It’s one of those things that I will make for the rest of my life, and IT DOESN’T EVEN HAVE CREAM CHEESE.

So. Without further delay – here’s the appetizer that changed Thanksgiving forever.

I MEAN IT.

(And by the way, I’m leaving all of Heather’s parenthetical notes in the recipe because y’all know I’ve never met a parenthetical note that I didn’t like.)

(They just help to clarify some things, you know?)

(See what I did there?)

*****
Mediterranean Spinach Appetizer

INGREDIENTS:

1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and chopped
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 roma tomato, deseeded and chopped
1 flame roasted red pepper (I buy them in jars near pickles)
1/4 cup nuts of your choice, chopped (I use pecans or walnuts, can do almonds or pine nuts)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon
dash salt
dash black pepper
container of crumbled feta (usually 4-6 oz)
honey or sugar, up to 1 teaspoon (optional)

Pita chips or fresh pita, cut into wedges and baked or fried

INSTRUCTIONS:

Squeeze thawed spinach in a colander it until it is as dry as you can get it. (I use paper towels to press it.) Chop it until it’s fine and then chop some more. Saute briefly (3-5 minutes) in olive oil over medium heat, just to warm it and evaporate most of the water.

Remove from heat and add to mixing bowl with chopped onion, tomato, pepper, and nuts. Combine Greek yogurt (plain), juice of half lemon, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Fold into spinach mixture and add feta cheese. Sometimes, depending on the spinach, it tastes a bit bitter or sour. Add honey or sugar to sweeten if desired.

Refrigerate for at least an hour. Use your hands or a bowl to form into a ball and serve with pita wedges (you can bake or fry your own!).

(This is Sophie. I can also wholeheartedly recommend Stacy’s Pita Chips, because EASY.)

(I also noticed that Heather chopped everything pretty fine – and all the chopped stuff was roughly the same size.)

(Just FYI for all of you appetizer overachievers.)

I know that we’ve talked about lots of dip-type situations over the years, but this one is special, y’all. I can’t recommend it enough.

Hope y’all enjoy it!

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Comments

  1. This sounds amazing. Wow. All of those flavors and not one iota of cream cheese.

    Mind = blown

  2. I guess some things are just universal. When my little one started soccer at 4 years of age the entire game stopped for every airplane that flew overhead. We learned to just go with it. Such fun memories! I need to try that dip right away. As in immediately!

  3. That is a FRIEND! It all sounds yum! I thought of you while Teresa and I shopped at a little shop near her home during their Christmas Open House- they had all manner of dip mixes and crackers. I was enticed to buy one jar of something incredible that is meant to pour over a block of cream cheese! Yes m’am it was that good! Saving it for our Christmas gorging! LOL

  4. Sophie, please ask Heather if the chopping can be done in a food processor. Thanks!

    Also, I wanted you to know that while I have not ever had a broken ankle, I have had major Achilles problems and know full well of the problems immobilization boots can cause your back. You’ll probably need some PT for your ankle once you are out of the boot. Ask your doc to order some for your back, too. The therapists can teach you some great exercises that will help prevent any more problems.

  5. Ann in Maryland says:

    You are speaking my love language. I’m a chip ‘n dip woman too! Thank you so much for the recipe. I have a feeling I’m going to try it out this weekend!

  6. I’m having a chip ‘n dip gathering in a couple of weeks, was wondering what to make – so I’m going with this one! Thanks.

  7. If you have a salad spinner, it’s perfect for getting the excess water out of the thawed spinach.
    ( I learned that tip from Rachael Ray.) ( Wanted you to know I didn’t think of that on my own.)

    Thanks for the great sounding recipe!

    • I was just wondering if the salad spinner would work. The chopped spinach doesn’t squeak itself through the little water holes?

  8. Can’t wait to try this dip for a Christmas party and thanks for the salad spinner tip!

  9. Amy byman says:

    we are bringing our baby girl home from China on the 24th. What a wonderful thing to look forward to next year.

  10. I’m not sure I can trust an appetizer that doesn’t have cream cheese. Last week for the tailgate, I made buffalo dip that had TWO BLOCKS of the stuff. But if you say so, I will believe you.

  11. I made this to take to a party this weekend. It was very good. I spread it into a tart pan so scooping was easy. It was heavy on the lemon flavor so next time I would add a bit & taste before adding the juice from a half a lemon. Lastly, no need to add salt as the feta is salty and the pita chips have salt too. It was a good (and healthier) version of a favorite. I may blend with goat cheese the next time (instead of the feta). Lastly, I used the Pampered Chef chopper & it was quick/easy. Thank you!

  12. Forgot to say we thought it tasted similar in flavor to tabouli.

  13. I made this for our Christmas Party last night, and it was a hit! One of my friends just stood there and scooped it from the bowl as the party was winding down. :) Tell Heather she did a good thing!