I don't know how many of you have experienced family-style eating at Maggiano's Little Italy. We have been to Maggiano's quite a few times, and even though I typically don't frequent chain restaurants, we enjoy eating ourselves silly [there]. Basically, if you arrive with at least four in your party you can purchase the family-style option: 2 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 pastas, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts. And the best part-it's all you can eat! I am usually happy eating mostly the salads, appetizers, and desserts. I take a few bites of the pastas and entrees, but they box up any leftovers for you to take home.
I really love to eat (obviously), but I can't eat a lot at one time. I am a grazer, (all day every day) so this works perfectly. I also love sitting around a table with good friends and taking a few hours to eat. We invariably get many of the same things but we also try to pick a few new choices as well. One of the dishes that we always order is the artichoke spinach dip. Oh, and did I forget to tell you that you can order multiples of the dishes? If you finish the dip and want more, you simply ask for it, eat as much as you can and then take the leftovers home! If this isn't a little foretaste of heaven, I don't know what is.
I replicate the dip at home whenever I can and thought I would share the recipe, as it is perfect for entertaining. I add a few extra things, just to expand the flavors and my version is pretty good, but I would recommend eating at Maggiano's at least once for the experience.
Also, I had a few extra ingredients that I'd purchased for the dip and decided to make a spread for sandwiches. I slathered the spread on crusty rolls and added some sliced cucumbers, spinach, and roasted red pepper strips and it was very satisfying...hopefully you'll like it, too!
Spinach and Artichoke Dip (adapted from Maggiano's Little Italy)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 T flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 T parmesan
1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup shredded asiago
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 jar marinated artichokes, drained
3 T sun-dried tomato pesto
4 spring onions, sliced thinly
1. In a large bowl, microwave the cream, garlic powder and parmesan. Continue stirring and heating until slightly thickened. Set aside.
2. Chop artichokes into bite-sized pieces.
3. Combine all ingredients except the tops (dark green) of the spring onions.
4. Pour into baking dish (this recipe is for a 9in pan, I usually double it).
5. Sprinkle dip with top slices of scallions, additional parmesan and panko bread crumbs (if desired) and bake at 395 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
6. Serve with crackers or garlic toast.
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
2 scallions, thinly sliced (only the white and light green portions)
1 small jar roasted red peppers, finely chopped and drained
1/8 cup mayo
1/3 cup parmesan
3 T sun-dried tomato pesto
Mix together and use as a spread for veggie sandwiches or as a dip for crackers or vegetables.