Kale and artichoke dip 079
I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sheepish when it comes to dip. It just seems so retro, like it belongs in one of those old 1950s cookbooks with the plaid dust jackets. The kind of book that depends on ingredients like Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup and canned pineapple.

That being said, I have a good friend who happens to be a trained chef, and her go-to party dish is always a dip. Fine, maybe dip can be cool after all, especially when it’s her version with caramelized onions and Indian spices.

And here’s the truth, dips do get a bad rap, and it’s not because they don’t taste good. It’s because they were popular at a time when jello salads and SPAM burgers were in favor. They were just hanging’ with the wrong crowd, so to speak.

My biggest problem with dips today is their placement, with all of the other appetizers, at the beginning of the meal. Aren’t those foods the best part of the meal? Who doesn’t want to gorge themselves on a heaping plate of wings, or a gigantic vat of nachos? I think I speak for all of us when I say that we have no need for the rest of the meal. No need at all.

So it was with great fortune that I ran out of food the other day. The fridge was nearly bare. This was time for brute tactics.  I managed to find a wilting bunch of kale and a few types of cheese along with a package of nearly-expired prosciutto. Perfect. Digging around the freezer revealed some more potential treasures: a big bag of frozen artichokes and some grated Parmesan. Hmmm….

And then it hit me. Dip. I’d be able to make a dip just for myself. A whole tray of it. No holding back, no whetting of the appetite, no guilt, no remorse. I’d have some crusty bread in one hand, and a glass of white in the other.

Kale and artichoke dip_feedmedearly

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KalepastaI swore I’d never pick up a bunch of kale or chard again after my summer battle with a CSA box.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the weekly box, but it nearly cost me my sanity.

Let me explain.  I was pregnant for the third time the summer of 2011.  Maybe I felt that between the job, two kids, and a husband who likes to leave his dirty socks and towels on the floor I needed a little more work.  So I ordered a CSA box. No clue what that is?  Click here.

“Lovely”, “Fresh veggies!”, “All summer long!”….you may think all of these things, and you would be severely misled.  The people who can handle the  onslaught of a CSA box for 22 straight weeks either have 1) an army of angry vegan men at home who demand a sustainably-grown dinner every night, 2) several hours (times ten) of free time to lovingly wash, prep, store and cook a large box of dirt-caked vegetables every week, or 3) an insane desire to make truckloads of vegetarian lasagna.

I was shoehorned into the third category, but not by choice.  It was the only meal I could make on a mass-produced scale to use up the mountain of chard and kale that landed on my doorstep every Tuesday.  It was like whack-a-mole meets Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Before I start to sound ungrateful, let me concede that it was one of the more satisfying projects I’ve ever undertaken in the kitchen.  But I was totally overwhelmed.  Maybe it was that I was too accustomed to Whole Foods sanitizing my veggies with a firehose before they land on the shelves.  Or that I just had too much going on at work.  Or that I GAVE BIRTH that summer and could have used a little less time on my feet.  Like someone who pigs out on pizza and can never hear the word again, I thought my relationship with kale was forever doomed.


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