Not Your Usual Spinach Dip

Dip into this spinach-walnut-dried mint dip.

When the champagne glasses start clinking on New Year’s Eve, you’ll want something tasty to go along with all of that bubbly.

But why settle for the same old spinach dip in a hollowed-out bread loaf when you can have this instead?

“Yogurt and Spinach Dip ‘Borani Esfanaaj’ in the Persian Manner” sure looks pretty, doesn’t it?

It’s also a bit more healthful than the old standby because it’s made with thick, creamy Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese or sour cream. You can make it with low-fat Greek yogurt, but it’s far more satisfying with the whole-milk version. If you insist on being virtuous (even on New Year’s Eve), use both — a tub of each. Just make sure you get some of the full-fat version in there.

The dip is by Shayma Owaise Saadat, a Toronto economist, whose recipe is featured in the new “The Food52 Cookbook” (William Morrow) of which I recently received a review copy. The book is by illustrious food writers, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, whom as you may now developed the Web site,, which each week for 52 weeks ran recipe contests to find the best recipes from home cooks all over the country.

The result is this book, a compendium of 140 recipes that have been vetted by Hesser and Stubbs. Each recipe includes a profile of the contributor, as well as reader comments and tips from Hesser and Stubbs.

In this dip, fresh spinach gets blanched quickly, then drained of most of its liquid, before being chopped. Garlic is sauteed with olive oil, then mixed with the spinach and yogurt.

The mixture is spread out in a wide serving bowl, then sprinkled with dried mint, crushed walnuts and a drizzle of good olive oil.

It’s creamy, crunchy and just a little bit exotic from the woodsy dried mint. I found the original version a bit mild for my palate, so I doctored it up a bit by adding another clove of garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Just because you’ll be singing your heart out with “Auld Lang Syne” doesn’t mean you have to dip into the same old thing.

Yogurt and Spinach Dip ‘Borani Esfanaaj’ in the Persian Manner

(Serves about 4 to 6)

Two 6-ounce packets baby or regular spinach

2 garlic cloves, minced and divided

2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)


Two (5.3-ounce) tubs very thick, drained yogurt such as whole-milk Total Fage Greek Yogurt

Dried mint (don’t use fresh)

1 handful crushed walnuts

Your best extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon or to taste (optional)

Lavash, whole wheat pita bread or pita chips, for serving

Blanch spinach briefly in a pot of boiling water.

Drain well, making sure to get all the liquid out. Chop fine.

Saute half the minced garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add spinach and a pinch of salt. Stir for a few minutes.

Set spinach aside to cool, then squeeze out any excess liquid.

In a bowl, gently stir together the yogurt, remaining garlic, and the spinach. Add salt to taste.

Transfer to a shallow, round serving bowl and sprinkle with dried mint, crushed walnuts and a lazy trail of your best olive oil. Squeeze on some lemon juice, if you like.

Serve with lavash, whole wheat pita or pita chips.

Adapted from a recipe by Shayma Owaise Saadat as published in “The Food52 Cookbook” by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

Another Can’t-Miss-Appetizer: Dorie Greenspan’s Sardine Rillettes

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Date: Tuesday, 27. December 2011 5:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: General, Health/Nutrition, Recipes (Savory)

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  1. 1

    It looks fabulos! I love Middle Eastern food.



  2. 2

    Dear Carolyn,

    I love these cool yoghurt dips especially in summer with a nice cold beer or a glass of bubbly! Hope you had a great Christmas!

  3. 3

    Sounds like a great recipe with bright and fresh ingredients.
    And you know it’s good when I’m craving it for breakfast. :)

    Hope you had a nice holiday!

  4. 4

    Now I know what I’m bringing to the party.

    Thanks for all the food ideas in 2011. Happy New Year, Foodgal!

  5. 5

    I love the dip but thank goodness there’s a healthier alternative! :)

  6. 6

    I love spinach dip and this looks amazing!!

  7. 7

    I love how healthy and delicious this dip looks :) Want. Some. Now!!!!

  8. 8

    That looks divine and as you say, way better than the cob stuffed spinach dip! :D

  9. 9

    That is one pretty spinach dip…love the use of yogurt here, lovely recipe!

  10. 10

    I like the added texture from the crunchy walnuts on top, and the yogurt sounds great. This would go perfectly with an afternoon on the couch and some pita chips!

  11. 11

    the walnuts are what make this for me–i love their crunch and flavor. neat dip!

  12. 12

    Oh my goodness, this just sounds crazy good. I love Persian food and the addition of dried mint. Cannot wait to give it a try.

  13. 13

    I just made this, its better than it sounds!

  14. 14

    lovely write-up and i love the extra garlic and lemon juice, next time i make this, i shall do the same. x shayma

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