One of my favorite things about food is the memories that often surround certain dishes. There are probably a few favorite dishes of yours that when mentioned make you think back on certain moments in your life. Maybe a big family get together, your first date, holiday parties or your visit to the stadium for your first major league baseball game. I have a few favorite dishes that bring back memories too. Take this Hot Crab, Spinach and Artichoke dip. It is one of my favorites not only because it is chock full of artichokes, baby spinach, fresh dungeness crab and two different kinds of cheese but because it comes loaded with memories of my very first job.
Allow me to get sentimental with you for just a moment. I didn’t just make this dip recently because it is super delicious on a cold winter day, I made this to pay homage to the restaurant that I started working at at the ripe old age of 16. I had turned in many applications but this is the only place that called me in for an interview. I got all dressed up, printed my resume full of all I had achieved in school up to that point and went in for the interview. It went well and they told me they would call me in a week when they decided. 4 days later I got a page, because pagers were cool back then, called the number and it was the manager of the restaurant telling me I got the job as a hostess. I was so excited. I was finally going to have my own spending money and more importantly at 16, it meant that I could get a car. Even so, because it was my first job, I figured that I wouldn’t work there for that long. I figured I’d work there for a few months and move on to the next thing, maybe retail so I could get a discount on clothes. But that’s not exactly what happened.
When I took that job I didn’t think that I would spend the next six years in that restaurant. I didn’t expect that I would grow up there and come out of my shy girl shell. I didn’t expect to laugh so much at work. I didn’t expect that I would work with the same core group of people for the entire six years. I didn’t expect that those people would become some of my best friends. When I moved away, I didn’t expect to miss it as much as I did. And when I went back home for Thanksgiving, I didn’t expect to hear that it had shut it’s doors.
Hearing the news is what prompted me to make a dish that reminded me of the restaurant. I pretty much knew right away what I wanted to make. Hot Crab and Spinach dip was always a part of my spiel once I graduated from hostess to server. I recommend it because it was one of my favorite things on the menu. This recipe is inspired by that dip. I did take a little creative liberty and decided to add some artichoke hearts because I had a can and I think they pair nicely with crab and spinach. But it didn’t change the dip too much and when I took my first bite I was back sitting in the back booth laughing hysterically with the other servers as we told each other stories of the day. Like the time a lady said to me “Can I get some extra tartar sauce? I really like to slather my buns with it”. Now I know what she meant, after all she was eating a fish sandwich, but it was pretty darn funny at the time.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small skillet melt butter over medium heat. Once butter melts add spinach and cook just until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
To the spinach add artichoke hearts, cream cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and crab meat. Stir to combine.
Butter a small casserole dish, spoon mixture into the dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, stir and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Turn on the broiler and cook for 3-5 minutes or until top is browned and edges are bubbly.
Allow to cool slightly and serve with tortilla chips.