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Tweaking a fatty dip


Is there a chip dip in the world that isn’t wonderful? No matter what the flavor, at heart most are tubs of sour cream or melted cheese. Few foods are more satisfying.

Of course, most dips also are notoriously heavy with fat and calories. Indeed, that’s why we love them. Still, we figured there must be ways to lighten them up while retaining their luxurious texture.

The finishing touches? Caramelized onions and garlic. Please take the time to cook the onions slowly, which brings out their natural sugar. It adds a nice depth of flavor to the mix.

Serve this dip with a healthy cracker (just read the label) or make your own pita crisps. To do so, just separate some two-layered pita bread pockets into single layers, spray them lightly with oil, cut them into triangles, and bake them at 400 F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crisp. Then go ahead and indulge yourself.

Hot and spicy artichoke spinach dip

Start to finish: 55 minutes (35 active)

Makes about 4 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

13.75-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained

10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 ounces Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese)

1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 3/4 cup grated using a wand-style grater)

1/2 cup medium chopped mild Peppadew peppers (about 2 ounces), or medium chopped roasted red peppers

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

Kosher salt

Crackers or low-fat pita crisps, to serve

Heat the oven to 375 F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium skillet over medium-low, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute, covered, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the artichokes until they are medium chopped, then transfer them to the skillet.

In the food processor combine the spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, then process until mixed. Add the mixture to the skillet, along with the peppers and pepper flakes. Stir well, then season with salt.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake on the oven’s middle shelf for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is bubbling at the edges. Serve immediately with crackers or low-fat pita crisps.

Nutrition information per 1/2 cup: 150 calories; 80 calories from fat (53 percent of total calories); 9 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 7 g protein; 540 mg sodium.