I've never been much of a sports fan. I have, however, been known to attend sports-watching social events for the food. Yeah, I know these events tend to revolve around wings, but there's usually plenty of vegetarian options too.
So with the Super Bowl right around the corner, of course I've got one thing on my brain, and it's not the number of home runs my team will score...it's food!
My husband confessed recently that spinach artichoke dip was one of his guilty pleasures during his early vegetarian years, so I decided it was time to create a dairy-free version that we could both enjoy.
I started my vegan spinach and artichoke dip with a base of creamy blended cashews and silken tofu. This might sound familiar -- I used the same thing in my French onion dip a while back. Cashews supply richness, while the tofu gives smoothness and body to both dips. Including tofu also gives you a dip that's a bit lighter than most dairy-based versions, and something on the light side is welcome amid all the fried finger foods you'll normally find at sports-watching events. Once you've got the tofu and the cashews blended, it's in with the spinach, artichokes, and seasonings.
I was tempted to throw everything in a skillet and bake it up in the oven, the way lots of similar non-vegan dips are prepared, but I decided not to. Baking up cashews is tricky -- it can change the texture quite a bit, and I didn't think it would be right for dipping after baking. Plus, things can get really complicated if it gets cold and you want to reheat it. So no baking this one! If you want to serve this dip hot, just heat it up very gently in a saucepan for a few minutes. And if you really want a melty cheese topping, feel free to scoop everything into a skillet, sprinkle some vegan mozzarella shreds on top, and broil it just for a minute or two, until they melt.
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews soaked in water 4 to 8 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup silken tofu preferably a refrigerated variety, and not a shelf-stable one
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper hot sauce
- ¾ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1 cup frozen spinach thawed and squeezed to remove excess water
- 1 cup frozen artichoke hearts thawed and squeezed to remove excess water
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives plus more for topping
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for topping
- Place the cashews, tofu, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, hot sauce, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- With the food processor running, drizzle in the milk, using just enough to get the mixture to a creamy consistency, with a thickness like that of sour cream.
- Add spinach, artichoke hearts, chives, and red pepper flakes to the food processor. Pulse just until the spinach and artichokes are finely chopped and fully incorporated into the base.
- Taste test and season with additional salt, if desired.
- To heat the dip, scoop it into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat, stirring constantly, just until the dip reaches the desired temperature. You can add a splash or two of milk if it begins to dry out. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and serve with crackers, bread, or veggies.