I don’t remember the first time I ate this dip but I do remember it was with my mom. I think it was more than two decades ago. We were at one of her favorite restaurants, Cibo, which eventually became my favorite, too.
Cibo is an Italian caffe-paninoteca (cafe and sandwich bar) in Manila, and we used to frequent it whenever we were at the mall (which was very often, as we are very good shoppers). My mom loves their paninis, particularly the prosicutto praga with ham, gruyere, and mushrooms. She brought home half of her panini one evening, I took one bite, and I immediately loved it, too.
One day we ordered the spinach dip: spinaci zola, or spinach and gorgonzola, and it came with these cripy rounds of crostini. I took one bite, and another, and ever since then, I order it everytime I was at Cibo. Which is no longer often, as I have been living away from Manila for years. But I still yearn for my little trips to the mall with my mom and a ramekin of this spinach dip. And while my mom and I can go online shopping together, chat on Facetime regularly, I missed this dip… until now. Because now I can easily whip this up, and as I’m savoring it, I’m thinking of my mom, too.
Warm and cheesy, but bright green so it makes you (me) feel righteous, this is the dip that dinner parties are planned around. There’s an entire package of frozen spinach in it, but also a bunch of decadent ingredients: butter, cream, gorgonzala, mozzarella. Everything is cooked in a stovetop first, then pulsed in a blender until it’s a thick paste, then popped into the oven to get that golden brown blanket of cheese. My only warning is to please be careful before eating because you (me) might burn the roof of your mouth.
Spinach Gorgonzola Dip
Recipe hack for the Spinach Dip from Cibo restaurant in Manila, Philippines
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
10 oz frozen chopped spinach
1 cup cream
1/4 cup water
6 oz gorgonzola cheese
10 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Cook the frozen spinach according to package directions. (I just followed the instructions to cook in microwave.)
- On the stovetop, in a large pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add spinach, cream, and water. Cook until it starts to boil, around two minutes.
- Add all the gorgonzola cheese and 8 oz (about 1 cup) of the mozzarella, reserving 2 oz of mozzarella for later.
- Add mirin, garlic powder, and salt. Stir and cook until cheese melts. Turn off stovetop heat.
- Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and blend on low setting, until the consistency turns into a thick paste.
- Transfer mixture to a pie plate or any other oven-safe dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and bake until bubble and golden brown, around 12-15 minutes.
- Let cool slightly, and serve with your choice of crostini, tortillas, pretzels, carrots, or crackers.
Thank you to my mom, who shares her taste for many delicious things, who listens to my stories and laughs at my jokes, and who continue to introduce me to a world filled with wonder and favorites, decade after decade. Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!