It was on one of my parents’ Italian nights that I was first introduced to garlic. I was thoroughly turned off. Of course, I was only five or six years old at the time.
My mother recalls she wasn’t too fond of it, either. It was something she and her contemporaries associated with ethnic neighborhoods in large cities. I am sure its pungent odor offended their small-town sensibilities.
In fact, my parents were born into a world where garlic was looked upon as inferior (sound familiar?). But as the world grew smaller, garlic’s benefits were discovered and extolled.
The older I get, the more I like garlic. And the more garlic I eat. I find there is very little that I do not add garlic to these days. I do not believe it has aphrodisiacal qualities. Well, maybe I do, but that’s another story.
What I do know is that when consumed in any form it is delicious. And it is a mainstay of my favorite type of food, which is Mediterranean.
Thursday night, with the wind howling like the mistral over Marseilles, I wanted garlic.
The thing is, on Day 6 of the South Beach Diet Phase One, I am limited. Not terribly limited, mind you. I am eating very well. But you see I’ve got all this celery to snack on and I want something nippy to go with it.
A nice garlicky artichoke dip was in order, I thought.
And so I made one. A very healthy one, too. As is my habit, I made it from items already on hand. It's too nasty out there to run to the grocery store.
Warm Artichoke Dip with Garlic and Red Peppers
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts
2 small cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Smart Balance Omega A Plus Mayonnaise Dressing
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (can be from a jar)
Drain the artichokes and pulverize them in a blender. Set aside. Place the minced garlic in a small sauce pan and sauté until golden brown. Add artichokes, cheeses and dressing. Add the red peppers last. Transfer dip to small baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Don't bake too long, or the cheese will separate.
I had my doubts about the Smart Balance. It's not bad, but not a replacement for mayo or Miracle Whip. For a treatise on these latter dressings, see Lydia's post at The Perfect Pantry.