March 16th is National Artichoke Hearts Day. Yes, there’s a holiday for just about everything: Here are the food holidays.
If you shop at a club store, you may run across large cans of artichoke hearts or artichoke pieces, nicely priced. There are also occasional sales on regular formats (13.85 ounce cans). Grab them!
Should you grab marinated or plain? It’s a toss-up.
Canned artichokes, packed in water, are more bland out of the can, but fine for dips, soups and other recipes where you don’t want the vinaigrette that comes with marinated artichoke hearts.
Marinated artichoke hearts are marinated in white vinegar and cheaper oil: soybean, sunflower or lower-quality olive oil.
If your palate notices the difference, you’re better off marinating your own, adding salt and spices to taste. They’re best in antipastos, salads and on sandwiches.
If you score a jumbo size, what should you do with all that artichoke?
The good news is that artichokes are low in calories: a 14 ounce can has 165 calories. So use them wherever and whenever.
 The Girl Who Ate Everything uses cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream in her spinach and artichoke dip. Here’s her recipe. See ours below.
 Use canned, unmarinated artichoke hearts in recipes where you don’t want the soybean oil—and often, a lot of salt (photo © Roland Foods).
THE HISTORY OF SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP
Spinach and artichoke dip is one of the most popular dips in the U.S., so it’s surprising that we can’t find information on its origin. If you know it, please let us know.
Our mom recalls that in the 1950s or 1960s, a recipe appeared on the containers of mayonnaise or sour cream, and possibly on packages of Knorr or Lipton dry soup mixes, both of which featured spinach dip with sour cream, mayonnaise and chopped water chestnuts. Such recipes were typically developed by home economists employed by food producers, to encourage popular new ways to use their products.
Mom’s recipe, transferred from the package to an index card, is below.
Some recipes include cream cheese, Parmesan or other cheese. We prefer the a less cheesy cold dip but do like grated Emmental or Gruyère cheese in the hot dip.
RECIPE: SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP
1. DRAIN the spinach in a strainer and press with the back of a large spoon to press out the remaining water. Further blot with paper towels if needed.
2. COMBINE the spinach in a food processor with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and optional zest and nutmeg; blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. ADD the artichokes and pulse a few times. For a cold dip, refrigerate spread in a tightly-capped container for several hours or overnight, to enable the flavors to blend.
4. FOR A HOT DIP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend in the grated cheese and fresh-ground black pepper. Place in an oven-proof dish, top with more grated cheese and bake at until golden brown, about 15–20 minutes.