Here I’ve combined two of my all-time favourite dips: French onion, and spinach and artichoke — totally inspired by the classic old ’70s and ’80s cob dip, a ubiquitous staple at every Aussie barbecue and party. I’ve been there many a time. I’m completely guilty of throwing together a dip with a few tubs of sour cream, a packet of French onion soup mix and a box of chopped frozen spinach. And while I cringe at the very thought of it, I’d always be the one sitting within arm’s length of the loaf to devour the lot. I wish I was exaggerating! Making the yoghurt-based Sour-ish cream on page 192 for this recipe is totally worth it, and offers a much healthier alternative to regular sour cream.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter (or a combination)
- 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 250 g (9 oz) bunch English spinach, with roots intact
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 wholemeal cob loaf
- 2⁄3 cup (150 g) coarsely chopped marinated artichokes
- 11⁄2–2 cups (400–550 g) Sour-ish cream (page 192)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, trim the roots from the spinach and wash the stems and leaves very well to remove any grit. Tie kitchen string around the stems and place the bunch in a large heatproof bowl, folding the leaves over if necessary. Pour over enough boiling water to cover. Leave for 1–2 minutes, or until wilted, then drain and cool under cold running water. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible, keeping the spinach in a log shape to make it easier to cut. Discard the string, then thinly slice the spinach and set aside.
After the onion has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir in the garlic and thyme and cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the onion and garlic are golden and caramelised. Set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Using a serrated knife, cut a 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick slice from the top of the cob loaf, then tear or cut the bit you removed into bite-sized pieces. Leaving a 1 cm (1⁄2 inch) border of the crust intact, remove and tear the soft bread from the centre of the loaf into bite-sized pieces, creating a bread ‘bowl’.
Place the bread ‘bowl’ and torn bread chunks on a large baking tray and bake for 5–10 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, transfer the caramelised onion mixture to a food processor. Add the spinach, artichokes and 11⁄2 cups (400 g) of the sour-ish cream and blend until the dip is your desired consistency, adding more sour-ish cream to taste. Season to taste with sea salt.
Spoon the dip into the bread bowl and serve immediately, with the toasted bread chunks as dippers.