Basil Artichoke "just in case" dip
Ever have that friend, the one that lives up the street from you and some how gets you to sign up to do things for her? The one that says, after you've agreed to do that one thing, that there's now a weekly deadline and your deadline happens to be Wednesday PM for a Thursday AM publish? Oh, and by the way, you can't always post about canning or preserving or fermenting...even though it's Fall and that's what Fall is for? Ever wonder how you said yes? Ever wonder if you did say yes? Maybe you just found yourself in this place and are just too darn passive to say no. Hrm. Maybe I'm a loner on this one. I'm willing to concede that point.
But then, this brings me to my next quandary. Remember being told you should always be prepared for the unexpected guest if you want to be known as a gracious host(ess)? For me it was my grandmother, she used to say things like that. I always nodded and listened and took notes but never questioned the premise. I never questioned that all her examples were of my grandparents life...and not mine necessarily. I never questioned how they always had a Sara Lee bundt cake in the freezer, just in case. I even remember being at their house once when some one dropped by and that cake came out! Boy was that a good day to be 6 years old! Ever notice that old people never eat that much cake...but kids do?
So...I've been thinking about this for awhile. Mostly because I've realized I've just always had things in the pantry..."just in case". But "just in case" doesn't really happen anymore - for me anyways. As a kid, my friends would run over to ask me to play kickball (when I was younger) or to walk the Avenue and look at boys (as I got older). After my 20's, that sort of fell away and people made set plans. Friends just don't drop by the way they used to. But I still keep some staples around..."just in case".
One of my favorite things to have on hand are the ingredients for this dip - a hunk of cheese (what? maybe I do have to buy a new hunk once a week...but really, I'm only doing it "just in case"), and a box of crackers. This dip is thrown together in moments...cheese and crackers are thrown down seconds later and I look like a social whiz. At least my husband thinks so...since mostly he and I get to eat these things. And then, if you're reading this site, there's always a bottle of wine somewhere that can be opened to help wash the whole thing down.
The recipe begins with a can of Artichoke hearts, a large handful of basil, some garlic, some salt and a food processor. I got that little tiny food processor in my 20's...it's probably made this dip more than anything else over the years. Now the dip is the only thing I use it for...my husband got me a new, big, fancy food processor many years ago but this little guy holds a special place in my heart...it's the "just in case" processor after all.
1 can Artichoke Hearts
1 cup basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust as needed)
Rinse the artichoke hearts, and place drained hearts in the food processor. Add the basil and garlic. Pulse the food processor until the dip has become a consistent texture (slightly chunky, not completely smooth). Empty contents into a container and add salt to taste. Serve with crackers and cheese.
So...as I've said, my friends don't just drop by anymore. Instead I end up making this dip (I actually do follow the directions above!) for myself more often than not. And when I've remembered it is Wednesday afternoon, my husband is meeting friends for dinner (without me), and I can't write about any of my preserving, fermenting, canning escapades...well, I make this for my dinner. And once again, its handy to have all these ingredients in my pantry, "just in case"!
I have learned, after many years of having this around, that the spread is amazing on a slice of bread with just a little cheese. And, considering it does make a decent amount of product, you may end up with leftovers after your mythical guests depart...so here's what I suggest doing with those leftovers -
Spread a thin layer of dip across a slice of bread. The basil flavor is pretty strong (and even stronger if this is the second day) so a little goes a long way. Add a little of that cheese you have in the fridge, "just in case". Broil in the toaster oven until the cheese is the right, gooey consistency.
Toaster ovens are the product of the gods. When you're at home, you're alone, the only food you have is leftovers...that little toaster oven can bring forth some great eats! I also love that you can just watch everything happening...in this case, the cheese getting all gooey and toasted and wonderful.
You can also keep an eye on those drips...making sure you grab the toast just before you lose any of that delicious cheese.
And then, because I'm classy when my husband is away and I'm eating "just in case" food...you even put everything on a plate, add a drink, and sit down!
Pay no attention to that lovely drink. That lovely drink is a product of fermentation so is not allowed in this column...at least not for awhile. (Anyone looking for a scobee to make their own kombucha? PLEASE let me know...mine doubles almost once a month and I would be happy to share!)
And as my own personal thank you to that deadline loving neighbor, here's a parting photo of my "just in case" recipe inspired dinner...with melty cheese. And no...no I don't have anything left...so if you knock on my door in an attempt to "just drop by" today....well, I'll pretend no one is home and enjoy my dinner alone, thank you!