Hot pesto dip is a serious comfort food for Super Bowl 50

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Hosting a horde of fans for the Super Bowl? Or are you crashing somebody's party and tasked with bringing something delicious? Either way, you could spend a lot of time thinking about what to prepare. Or you could just make this and know beyond any doubt that you had picked a crowd-pleaser.

What is it about hot dips? I can show some restraint around a room-temperature dip. Because sour cream is fine and all... But offer me something hot and cheesy and golden on top, and you'd better watch your fingers.

This dip makes no pretense at healthfulness. Because it's the Super Bowl! Not the day to start your diet. I don't know about you, but I like my healthy foods healthy, and my decadent foods decadent.

Still, if you insist, you certainly can pick and choose among the ingredients and decide where you want to slim down the dish. You could, for example, use reduced-fat shredded cheese or Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese) instead of regular. And while we're talking substitutes, you could use fresh spinach in this recipe, but frozen is just fine (and so convenient).

If you are bringing this to someone's house, you'll need to heat it there, which means you'll absolutely need to clear this with the host ahead of time. There are few things more exasperating than a guest rushing into your kitchen and surprising you with the information that they need a space in your oven and they need it now. But unless there is not an inch of oven left, your hosts probably will be fairly delighted by the prospect of a hot dip in their home. I know I would be.

Hot-and-creamy pesto spinach dip

Start to finish: 30 minutes (10 minutes active)

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

9-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup milk or cream

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a shallow, 4-cup baking dish or 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.

In a medium skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds, then add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach is cooked and no liquid remains in the pan, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, milk, basil and a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper. Use an electric mixer to beat until well combined, then add the spinach mixture and mix again until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, smoothing the top, then bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Serve hot with bread or crackers.

Nutrition information per serving: 170 calories; 130 calories from fat (76 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 340 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 6 g protein.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook."


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