Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spinach and Artichoke Nachos with Chicken

At this point in the NFL season, any game could be your last, so you've got to really bring it with the snacks. I was recently struck with a craving for spinach and artichoke dip, but because I knew I'd eat far more than is good for me, I wanted to scale it back to a slightly more reasonable portion. Given my recent penchant for nachos, it seemed natural to use that template to size it down. And so I bring you, spinach and artichoke nachos! (If you still want to enjoy it as a dip, just bake the spinach and artichoke mixture and serve tortilla or pita chips on the side). This is everything you expect from spinach and artichoke dip - a plethora of veggies enveloped by rich and cheesy goodness - perfectly sized for one or two; add the chicken to really turn it into a meal. The healthy helping of vegetables are both delicious and nutritious, the cheese blend melty and nutty, with just the right spicy punch from the red pepper flakes. I like to use light mayo and light sour cream to bring it all together because it creates a creamy base without making an already rich dish too heavy. Any sturdy tortilla or pita chip will do here, but I love Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Tortilla chips, the extra subtle hint of sweetness making these an even more perfect canvas for my nacho experimentation. All there's really left to say is GO PACK GO! and happy footballing, no matter who you're cheering for this weekend (unless it's the 49ers).

Spinach and Artichoke Nachos with Chicken
serves 1 to 2

Cooking spray or canola or olive oil
4 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces (optional)
2 ounces tortilla chips
2.5 ounces (about 1 cup) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed out
3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, and chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons light mayo
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1 ounce (1/4 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 ounce (3 tablespoons) shredded Parmesan cheese
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If including chicken, preheat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook until meat has reached 170 degrees F and is no longer pink.

2. Meanwhile combine spinach, artichokes, mayo, sour cream, cheeses, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place tortilla chips on an oven-safe platter in an even layer and top with the spinach and artichoke mixture.

4. Place platter in the oven and bake until spinach and artichoke mixture is warm and  melty, about 8 to 12 minutes. Turn oven to broil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, another 3 to 5 minutes (or more, depending on the strength of your broiler). Serve immediately.
(Alternatively, the spinach and artichoke mixture can be baked alone and served with chips on the side).

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