A few months ago I decided I would finally master homemade sourdough, and proceeded to immediately be annoyed by all recipes for sourdough bread.
Let me explain.
As a lover (and teacher) of ancient history, I have a deep appreciation for bread. Humans have been baking bread for thousands of years and, up until recently, didn’t rely on recipes or cultured yeast to make it. Natural yeast in the air helped leaven their bread, and, in many cases, people relied on flatbread for their everyday needs. Yet, sourdough bread, which is based on ancient traditions, is one of the most complicated baking techniques out there.
Maybe I’m just stubborn, but it seems outrageous that our ancestors could just wing it, and yet the average sourdough recipe has several pages of instructions detailing the careful, delicate, sensitive nature of the art of making sourdough. Being the strong-willed, resistant person I am, I obviously refused to follow a sourdough recipe. I followed the basic formula for making a sourdough starter (equal parts water and flour in a jar at room temperature, fed every day with equal parts flour and water for a week, then transferred to the fridge and fed equal parts flour and water once a week forever), and then spent several weeks experimenting with sourdough bread. My first few loaves were pretty dense and spongey. Not terrible, but…not great. Eventually I decided that, instead of throwing flour, water, salt, and sourdough starter together and hoping for the best, I might as well loosely follow a bread recipe I already know and love.
I started making no-knead bread, but subbing 1/4 cup of sourdough starter for the recommended 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in the recipe. Since then, my loaves have been significantly better. Crusty on the outside, tender on the inside, and decidedly easier than following a sourdough recipe.
You might assume at this point that I’m sharing a recipe for sourdough with you, but I still haven’t perfected the recipe to the point where I feel confident that you could replicate the bread in your kitchen. I also feel like it’s a bit on the complex side, and I’m all about simple, straightforward recipes here on Baked Greens.
The good news is, all this time baking bread means I’m finding creative ways to use up all my sourdough. My current favorite: dipping slices into a bowl of bubbly, cheesy spinach & artichoke dip. Instead of the typical artichokes and spinach suspended in hot mayo, this dip relies on white beans, olive oil, and full-fat Greek yogurt for a rich, creamy texture and less…hot mayo-like flavor. Not that I have any big issue with mayo; I just think spinach and artichokes were destined for bigger, better things than the 1990’s version of spinach-artichoke dip would lead you to believe.
This warm, golden brown, cheesy dip starts with a can of artichoke hearts. The artichokes get drained, chopped, and sauteed in olive oil until brown. Spinach and garlic get added, and then the whole pan full of garlic-y goodness gets stirred into a bowl of mashed white beans. The beans can be mashed with a fork, potato masher, or even pulsed in a food processor. The final additions to the dip are Greek yogurt, Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, olive oil, salt, and pepper. At this point, you have a chunky, flavorful dip that’s perfect for slathering on crusty bread or dipping crackers into. But, why stop there? An extra sprinkle of cheese, drizzle of olive oil, and a few minutes under the broiler yields the most beautifully brown, bubbly, indulgent-looking dip.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. Despite the apparent lack of mayo, this spinach & artichoke dip tastes like old-school comfort food and is only enhanced by a few slices of freshly baked, crusty bread. This is especially welcome if you happen to have picked a fight with modern sourdough bread recipes and find yourself with loaf after loaf of experimental bread in your kitchen.
P.S. The recipe card isn’t working, so I’m just typing out the recipe for you here. That means you won’t be able to click the print button and just print it, you’ll have to copy and paste the recipe into a blank document to print. As soon as I can get the recipe card to work again, I will update this post and fix it for you. Sorry for the inconvenience!
SPINACH & ARTICHOKE WHITE BEAN DIP
1-14 ounce can artichoke hearts (or about 8oz frozen artichoke hearts)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups packed baby spinach
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon each salt + black pepper
1-15.5 ounce can white beans, drained*
3 Tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan-Romano blend
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each salt + black pepper
1 extra Tablespoon grated Parm-Romano + a drizzle of olive oil, for topping
- Put a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Drain and roughly chop the artichokes, and put them in the skillet with 1 T olive oil. Cook 4-6 minutes, or until starting to brown.
- While artichokes cook, mince the garlic cloves and cup the spinach into thin strips. Once artichokes start to brown, turn off the heat and mix in spinach and garlic.
- In a separate bowl (or the bowl of a food processor), put all remaining ingredients except the extra cheese and drizzle of oil. Use a fork or potato masher to mash the beans and fully incorporate all ingredients into a creamy puree. Some small chunks of beans leftover is fine, but the mixture should be relatively smooth.
- Add artichoke mixture to the mashed beans, and stir to combine. Transfer to a small oven-safe container, top with remaining cheese and oil, and broil on high for 3-5 minutes, or until golden. Serve immediately with sliced bread or crackers.
*Great Northern Beans, Cannelini Beans, or White Kidney Beans will all work equally well in this recipe.