There are a lot of spinach cheese dips that have I’ve had in the past, but one particular dip is my favorite. Spinaci Zola is one of the dips I used to always have one of my favorite restaurants near the place where I used to work. It has strong cheese and garlic flavors, and I love the texture—a thin crispy crust from the cheese on top, and then after breaking through the crust, soft, stringy, and almost smooth mixture of spinach and cheese. My favorite people at work used to always order this in Cibo, along with another dish at the restaurant near our office and I had so many memories associated with it through the years. We’d call it a “Happy Lunch”—where we would disengage from work, talk about other things in our lives.
Fast forward to 2020—where none of us work together anymore. Then there was the pandemic, that meant having to stay at home. I missed a lot of things, including going out and catching up with friends, eating at my favorite restaurants and talking away for an hour or more with them. We seldom do take out too, so I thought maybe I can try to recreate the dish. I looked up a couple of recipes and tried the first time—but I felt like the flavors were different, a bit closer to other spinach dips from other restaurants—the garlic taste wasn’t too evident, and I couldn’t taste the cheese as much as I wanted to, even if there was a lot of cheese. The texture, was a fail, I only chopped the spinach, but because I was in a hurry, I forgot to put it in the food processor. This was very good, but not close to Spinaci Zola.
Then I tried making it again the other day, and this time it was a success! I used more cheese, went freehand with the garlic (almost) and got the texture of the cheese right. It’s super good! It’s a shame I couldn’t use crostini (in consideration to a family member) and gorgonzola wasn’t available at the grocery and deli that we went to. But because of the amount of mozzarella (also the flavor profile of the mozzarella that I bought, which was on a slightly more flavorful side), it still tasted quite close! So here’s the recipe and I hope you enjoy it at home too!
*A quick note: if you want to use less cheese, you can add a bit of cream (about ¼ cup), but I think the amount of cheese makes it really good!
Spinach Cheese Dip (Inspired by Spinaci Zola
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 3 cups of spinach leaves, chopped roughly
- 200 grams of mozzarella cheese, grated
- 50 grams of gorgonzola cheese (if available)
- 5 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon of vinegar
- Salt, according to taste
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Blanch the spinach in hot water for about 1-2 minutes, and drain. Squeeze the excess water using a tea towel.
- In an sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two.
- Add the spinach and saute for a minute.
- Add the garlic powder and mix well. Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture into a food processor or blender.
- Add the rest of the olive oil and blend until thick and almost smooth.
- Transfer back to the pan, add the mozzarella cheese (leaving almost half of the mixture out) and gorgonzola and mix until well incorporated.
(You can opt to add the cheese before blending in the food processor/blender, but I find that this extra step makes it easier for me to clean up haha.)
- Transfer to an oven safe ramekin or pan and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in the oven that is preheated to 200 degrees Celsius for about 7-8 minutes (depending on how crispy you want the top to be)
- Serve with crostini or toasted bread and enjoy!