Baked Olive Artichoke Dip


SoupAddict is very, very, very happy to say that winter has finally sped up and is sailing forward (and hopefully, away). In fact, January and February dragged on so slowly that it was actually a bit of a shock to realize that the Oscars are this weekend.

I’m not a huge Oscars fan per se, but I am a huge fan of any event that calls for whipping up fabulous food and plopping yourself and your besties down in front of the TV, and getting all catty about the dresses, and scrutinizing the nominees’ faces close-up to see who slips a pout when their names aren’t called, and betting on the number of people who burst into tears during their acceptance speeches.

Not that SoupAddict is in to any of that. No, sir.

SoupAddict’s ideal Oscar party consists of finger food. Pointing and sneering and mocking (remember Charlize’s cinnamon buns dress last year? [shiver]) is much more difficult when you’re holding a forkful of filet mignon. These artichoke crostinis, however, are the perfect three-bite morsel: delicious and easy to hold, yet will survive a drop to the plate when two-fisted gesturing is suddenly called for.

And as the host, you can be assured that this dish is super simple to prepare. A little chopping, a little mixing, and into the oven it goes.

Bake all of the ingredients in an oven proof serving dish, so it can go straight from oven to table without scraping into another bowl. Look at all of that melty goodness. Do you love Boursin as much as SoupAddict does? It’s amazing stuff. Addictive, even.

I live way out in the ‘burbs, but I’m lucky in that one of my city’s premier artisan bakeries, Shadeau Breads, huffs a load of their baguette finest right out to a store that’s just around the corner from my house. I’m not going to name it, because I want all that Shadeau goodness for myself. Word.

Toast your bread slices briefly under the broiler before schmearing with the delicious dip. Slightly crunchy bread is easier to bite off than chewy. Chewy has its time and place, but not here: your mouth must be available at all times to hurl fashion insults at the drop of an ugly hat.

True chewy bread disaster story: Once, SoupAddict went on a day-long job interview, which included lunch at a bistro a short drive away. I don’t recall what I ordered, except that it came with a big hunk of French bread. Chewy bread. My companion had apparently drawn the short straw in being saddled with the job candidate at lunch, and made it clear throughout that we had to eat quickly because he was “busy.”

He also drove a huge truck, and I was wearing a shortish (but still completely appropriate) pencil skirt and fabulous BCBG high heels. Getting in and out of the tall cab with dignity required some interesting legwork and skirt adjustments that he didn’t even bother pretending not to watch. That was about strike 4 for this company at that point in the day. But I digress.

Conveniently, Mr. Busy decided to conduct his portion of my interview not during the lull after ordering, but rather after our food was served, and began a rapid-fire line of the same inexpert questions I had heard all morning long. Then it happened: I made the mistake of biting into the bread. The crust was tough and slightly stale and wouldn’t break away at the point of the bite. And then my teeth got stuck. No amount of jaw-work would free them from the chewy innards. In one last desperate move, I pull the bread as hard as I could, and suddenly all of the chewy innards broke free from the stale crust, leaving what must’ve looked like a fluffy white tale hanging out of my mouth. (My teeth were still stuck, by the way.)

I had to indelicately pull off all the exposed bread innards to free my teeth, which is quite impossible to do without looking like a total loser bumpkin. And by the look on Mr. Busy’s face, I could tell that whatever points my legs had won, this little incident totally erased. Right back atcha, Mr. Busy. Right back atcha.

Chewy bread has its time and place, people. Time and place. The end. Now back to regular programming….

This is one of those happy hostess dump-and-mix recipes that comes out tasting so luscious, your guests will never know that it took only five minutes of hands-on time to prepare.

Baked Olive Artichoke Dip
adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, unmarinated, drained)
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves plus additional (for garnish)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup green-olive tapenade
1 5.2-ounce garlic-and-herb cheese (such as Boursin)
Assorted sliced crusty breads

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coarsely chop artichokes and basil in processor or by hand. Transfer mixture to 4-cup baking dish; mix in Parmesan, tapenade, and herb cheese. Bake until hot, about 30 minutes. Garnish with additional basil. Serve with bread slices.

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