My meals are generous with everything but appetizers. I like people to eat their dinner, and I’d much rather save room for dessert than fill up too early. But on Thanksgiving I can’t leave guests starving as I load the buffet with platters of food. A warm dip on the table with crackers and veggies creates a hub for friendly conversation as anticipation builds for the feast of the year.
In a bumpy fall season, I’m relying on my easiest recipes to get me through Thanksgiving prep. This three-ingredient dip fits the bill. It’s also convenient for making ahead.
I love this dip just as well cold as warm, but on a brisk November day in Ohio, warm is the way to go. I’ll make it now and heat it before guests arrive Thursday.
Many people by tradition have Thanksgiving at lunchtime, but I can’t get up at dawn to roast turkey. We lazily assemble in the late afternoon, which gives me the day to cook. Thanksgiving dinner can be made in one frenetic cooking day, but stress is much lower if I spread it over three.
Tuesday – Make artichoke dip. Cook cranberry sauce. Cube bread for stuffing and leave out to dry. Brine turkeys in salt-sugar water.
Wednesday – Roast sweet potatoes with butter and maple syrup. Make balsamic vinaigrette and candied walnuts. Wash salad greens. Remove turkeys from brine to dry skin overnight.
Thursday – Turkeys in oven. Assemble stuffing to bake. Cook green beans in skillet. Roast brussels sprouts (my one new dish this year). Peel, boil and mash potatoes. Make gravy. Toss salad greens with apples, walnuts, feta and vinaigrette.
I like to make the basics and have others contribute from their Thanksgiving memories. My mother-in-law is bringing cole slaw, a tradition of her mom’s. One sister-in-law is bringing cornbread stuffing with cranberries, and another is bringing an apple-cranberry crumble. A third sister-in-law gets a free pass for hauling her three young kids out to her brother’s midday Thanksgiving meal and back to ours in the early evening. (No male cooks in this crowd.)
My hardworking friend Jenny, a champion baker, is bringing a decadent corn pudding as well as pecan chess pie, pumpkin pie and apple dumplings. If Jenny can’t leave her family to come live with me, at the very least she has to come for Thanksgiving every year.
I realized yesterday I only have one working oven and two turkeys. Alarm bells should have gone off last week when my husband emailed me in California to report a broken hinge on the top oven, but I had heavier matters on my mind. If a last-minute repair effort today can’t get me through, my lovely and lovable mother-in-law has two ovens down the road.
But back to the job of today. I store a big jar of marinated artichoke hearts from Costco primarily for this dip. It lasts forever.
Chop and mix with cream cheese and grated parmesan. I don’t recommend using a food processor, because you’ll lose the chunkiness of the artichoke.
Doesn’t get much easier than that.
Into a nice baking dish or large ramekin, and it’s good to go. If I’m short on oven space, this dip warms up well in the microwave too. My mother-in-law likes a little paprika on top, which somehow brings me back to the ’70s.
Three-Ingredient Artichoke Dip
When I have an unexpected crowd, this is an easy pantry appetizer that never disappoints.
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
- 8 oz cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese, Kraft’s light version)
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
- Remove artichoke hearts from marinating liquid and chop with a sharp knife.
- Add cream cheese to bowl along with chopped artichoke hearts and grated parmesan. Mix well.
- Serve cold or hot. To warm, microwave until bubbly or bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
- I don’t recommend using a food processor, because you’ll lose the chunkiness of the artichoke.
- Add crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce for a little kick.
Here’s the link to a printable version.