For as long as I can remember, this has been a staple pica-pica or appetizer in homes I have visited for many, many years. I have never made it myself. Though I completely understand that if you smother vegetables in cheese, they will likely be consumed in large quantities. This hot, substantial spread is a simple, easy, hearty appetizer, and it is incredibly easy to make. I didn’t follow a set recipe, because this was meant to mop up odds and ends in the fridge and freezer (mostly the cheeses) so you’ll have to do this with a little bit of uncertainty as to measurements of ingredients. I think its hard to mess this up… :)
Into a bowl, I threw in a brick of cream cheese, less a few tabelespoons that went on a bagel a week or two before.
I then added some minced garlic, some chopped basil or any herbs you like, added a half cup or more of parmesan cheese (I think I used closer to a cup), and say 1/2 -3/4 cup of mayonnaise. Add some cracked black pepper and mix this up well.
To this mixture I added about a cup of roughly chopped bottled artichokes (we always try to have those in the fridge) and about half a package of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed to extract excess liquid. If you had odd bits of romano or even manchego lying about, you could grate that into the mixture as well.
Mix well to distribute ingredients and spoon into a ceramic or glass baking dish. We had a half used block of mozzarella in the fridge so I grated that and used it as a topping.
Be generous with the cheese, this is by no means a diet friendly dip. Place into a pre-heated 350F oven for say 25 minutes until the top browns slightly, and cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving. It will still be quite hot, and could still sear the roof of your mouth… Serve with bread or crackers.
This stuff is disarmingly addictive and high in calories. That’s probably why it tastes so good. Experiment with all kinds of ingredients in your hot dips… maybe some sun dried or semi-dried tomatoes, some bits of ham or prosciutto, even olives or other goodies. Enjoy!