The Super Bowl is coming up and most years, I take full advantage of the opportunity to make a bunch of appetizers, finger food, and cocktails. This hot vegan spinach artichoke dip is PERFECT for your Super Bowl celebration because not only is it packed with veggies and made from real ingredients, but it’s straight up delicious, AND has left omnivores dumbfounded that it’s vegan and isn’t made with dairy cheese.
Just look at it. SO cheesy! It’s stretchy, meltable and gooey too, just like a good spinach and artichoke dip should be. Step aside, Daiya!
I’ve also seen versions of dairy-free spin-art dip made with tofu, and I’m sure those are tasty too, but I think the cashews give the perfect rich base for this version.
This vegan spinach artichoke dip uses tapioca starch to create a thick and gooey cashew “mozzarella” base. Tapioca starch is an all-natural starch made from dehydrated manioc, a root vegetable similar to yucca. It gives the most amazing cheese-like texture to vegan cheesy items made from scratch.
Even if you aren’t big on football, I would have to guess that you, like me, enjoy an excuse to make a killer vegan spinach artichoke dip, so I hope that you’ll give this one a try. We will definitely be having it again on game day :). Go Seahawks and/or Ravens! 😛
Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip
A creamy and delicious baked vegan spinach artichoke dip, served warm from the oven and made from scratch with cashew mozzarella. Naturally vegan, dairy-free, and paleo!
For the vegan spinach artichoke dip:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 white onion thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts drained and roughly chopped
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach (about 2 ounces) thinly sliced
- ground black pepper and chili flakes (optional, to taste)
For the cashew mozzarella:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prep the vegetables:
- In a small skillet or saute pan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes or until the onion is somewhat translucent.
- Toss together the artichoke hearts, spinach, onion and garlic mixture from the skillet (including oil), black pepper, and chili flakes (if using), and divide equally among whatever vessels you plan to cook the dip in (I used two of the 1-cup ramekins that you see pictured & one glass Pyrex dish of a similar size). Keep in mind that the spinach will shrink significantly once the hot cashew cheese hits it.
Make the cashew cheese:
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). If not using a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, make sure to blend or process for 60 seconds and pour through a mesh sieve before continuing.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Stir every few seconds, making sure to scrape around the bottom of the saucepan to keep from sticking. The mixture will start to get chunky in places; when you see this happening, start to stir constantly until the mixture smooths out again and becomes one cohesive, somewhat stretchy mass. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Working quickly so that the cheese does not stick to the pan, divide the cheese equally among the baking dishes you have selected. Use a fork to toss the vegetables with the cheese to incorporate it evenly. If desired, gently brush or spray oil on the top of the mixture to help it brown. (It will still brown somewhat either way. The photographed dip did not have any oil added at all.)
Bake the vegan spinach artichoke dip:
- Place the dip into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until hot all the way through and the top is slightly crusty and browned.
- Serve immediately, with chips, crackers or toasted bread of your choosing. Be careful, as the inside will be hot.
Soak the cashews overnight, but if you forget, simply put them in a bowl with water and microwave for 90-120 seconds at a time or until very softened.
Some people don't like nutritional yeast in 'cheese' recipes and I tend to be one of them. I think it is easy to go overboard and overpower the other flavors. But in this instance, just one tablespoon adds savory notes and balance to the dish; however, you can omit it if you don't keep nutritional yeast on hand, or don't like its flavor.
Tapioca starch is the same thing as tapioca flour and it's made by Bob's Red Mill as well as other brands. Look in the baking aisle or natural section of your grocery store, at almost any Whole Foods, or on Amazon.com!
I don't recommend making a substitution for the tapioca starch if you can avoid it. Cornstarch or arrowroot starch may work to thicken the dip but tapioca starch is definitely the best at making it gooey and stretchy! Some readers have had success with potato starch - check the comments section for detail!
I recently updated this recipe to include the formerly optional step of sauteeing the onions and garlic before cooking the dip. I also changed the recipe to use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika. After trying it a few times with different brands and amounts of smoked paprika I think it is too finicky to get that sweet spot of smokey flavor in this artichoke dip so I removed it instead.
VARIATIONS: Use blanched kale or other greens instead of the spinach. Add jalapeno to the saute mixture for an extra kick.
Love spinach artichoke dip? Try my Spinach Artichoke Falafel