March Madness continues at the Smith House! ? I don’t know about anyone else, but at our house, if there’s an NCAA basketball game on in March, you will most likely find Mark watching it. And this Spinach Artichoke and Bacon Dip makes an awesome appetizer or snack for watching the many college basketball games of March, or really, for any occasion!Growing up in a home that wasn’t really into sports, I never got into March Madness or understood the obsession. My dad is a talented singer, piano-player, and artist, so I grew up watching more British period dramas, the A&E channel, and old movies than I did sports. (And that was fine with me!)
But, after marrying Mark, a life-long basketball player, my artsy self got introduced to the world of the NCAA. Mark helped me fill out my first bracket a few years ago, so I’ve played along with the March Madness stuff ever since. Do I know a thing about basketball or the teams or the players? Nope. Do I even normally like watching basketball? Nope. However, I’m starting to understand Mark’s excitement and eagerness for the rounds and rounds of bracket-busting games and I try to play along and get into it with him. Let me tell you that this Spinach Artichoke and Bacon Dip will be a great snack for you and the basketball fans in your home as you root for your favorite teams! Or favorite mascots! 😉
I’m sure most of you have had spinach and artichoke dip before, but this version is special for two reasons. First, of all, BACON. Let’s be honest, bacon makes everything better. In this recipe, it definitely adds a ton of flavor.
I like to bake bacon in the oven to avoid splattering grease all over my stove and making my kitchen smell like bacon for days. Although, maybe some of you enjoy the lingering bacon smell, and if so, by all means fry your bacon in a skillet for this recipe!
The second reason this dip is special is because it’s dairy-free, but you’d never know it, thanks to the coconut cream and cashews! When I first found out I had celiac disease, I went strictly dairy-free, which was a total bummer at first, since I assumed that meant no more cheese. Then I discovered that there really are some great cheese substitutes out there, and you can make them yourself! That’s where cashews come in handy!
Can I just say that cashews are almost magical? Seriously, thank you to the person who ever thought of soaking cashews and turning them into cheese-like goodness. Soaked cashews get super soft and make a sort of ricotta cheese texture once blended up. This really adds extra creaminess to the dip, so you won’t even miss the dairy here!
This Spinach Artichoke and Bacon Dip could be eaten by the spoonful on its own, on a salad, or on pasta. It’s that good! I actually loved this dip so much that I used it in a main dish recipe that’s coming to the blog later this week! Let’s whip up a batch of this dip so we can offer up something yummy to our friends and family as March Madness comes to a dramatic conclusion this week!
Start by giving your cashews a nice bath in warm water. Let them soak for at least an hour, or more, if possible. The longer they soak, the creamier they get when you blend them up. While they’re soaking, defrost your spinach and drain it. I pressed mine into a fine strainer to squeeze as much water out as possible. Get your onions and garlic cooking and add the spinach and artichokes to the pan.
After the cashews have had a good soak, drain them and add them to a high-speed blender or food processor. I used my Ninja blender and it worked great. Throw in the coconut milk, lemon juice, and spices and blend away. The result should be a creamy, ricotta-like mixture. Add that into the skillet with the spinach.
Once you’ve cooked or baked your bacon, give it a chop and add that into the mixture. Season with extra oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and you’re done! No baking needed!
I love serving this dip warm and eating it with Trader Joe’s Plantain Chips! SO GOOD! It’s also yummy as a cold dip with carrots, celery, peppers, or whatever veggies you love. It can easily be reheated in the microwave, too, so it’s a great make-ahead dish to take to dinner parties or gatherings.
Or in this case, it’s a perfect dip to make for a husband who is always SO appreciative of a hearty snack to chow down on while cheering on his favorite teams! I think I’ll join him in this final week of watching basketball and checking brackets if it means I get to eat more of this Spinach Artichoke and Bacon Dip!
Onto the Final Four!
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 2- 10 oz packs chopped frozen spinach
- 1- 12 oz jar artichoke hearts
- 1 lb sliced bacon
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Extra salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- Soak cashews in hot water for at least an hour. The longer they soak, the more creamy they get.
- Cook your bacon (I baked mine) and set aside to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve two tablespoons of the bacon grease.
- Microwave the frozen spinach until softened. Squeeze out as much water out as you can.
- Drain the artichoke hearts and give them a rough chop.
- In a skillet, heat reserved bacon grease and cook the onion over medium heat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and saute for another minute. Add in the spinach and artichoke hearts and reduce heat to low.
- Drain the cashews and throw them in a high speed blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk, lemon juice, salt, and spices. Puree until creamy. It's okay if it has a little texture to it. It should be similar to ricotta cheese.
- Pour the cashew sauce over the spinach & artichokes and stir until heated through.
- Chop the bacon and stir that into the spinach mixture. Remove from heat and pour into a serving dish.
- Serve dip with veggies or your favorite chips (mine are plantain chips!) and enjoy. The dip will keep for several days in the refrigerator, and it's great hot or cold.