When it comes to holiday appetizers, I’m often in a quandry. Although I yearn for old favorites, breaking new culinary ground appeals to my sense of adventure. Make ahead is practical, but I still want elegance. Substantial dishes are good, but typically they require a fork or spoon – problematic at a large gathering. That’s where Artichoke Dip Slab Pie comes in. It’s a holiday home run, ticking off all the bases as guests ooh and aah before digging in.
The concept is simple, yet genius. Take a time-honored and much-loved appetizer, artichoke dip, and put it in a delicious pie crust. Bake it as a slab pie (in a rectangular quarter sheet pan rather than a traditional, round pie pan) and cut it into squares or rectangles. The filling is, as advertised, just like artichoke dip. The cream cheese crust is tender, flaky, and truly mouth-watering.
Although Ms. Manners would tell you to use a fork to eat it, you really don’t need one for a small piece. Cathy recommends baking it the day you serve it. Maybe she has more refined tastebuds than I do. Anyway, I served half of this pan the next day, warmed back up at about 300 degrees and it was just fabulous. If I’m totally honest, I even ate the final slice on the third day, when it was still delicious.
And who thought up this marvel? Why Cathy Barrow, of course. She’s not only a preserving master, but also a pie maven of the first order. In her new book, Pie Squared, Cathy shows us how to make sweet and savory slab pies with lots of different pie crusts. (Cathy’s publisher sent me a copy of the book and gave me permission to use the recipe, without any promises on my part. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.) She also gives those of us who lack pie courage the confidence to try lattice crusts, and even decorative stars, and leaves. Now I don’t simply drool over instagram and pinterest pie photos – I’ll make them too.
Speaking of making drool-worthy, I’m just a little bit proud of this homemade artichoke dip slab pie.
With this dish in your repertoire, holiday entertaining is a snap. Make the pie a few hours ahead and serve it barely warm. Or leave it unbaked until the last minutes, then bake the pie shortly before you want to bring it out. Either way, you look calm and collected as your guests marvel at your culinary masterpiece.
I won’t lie – making pie dough can be challenging. But with Cathy’s hints, her recipe, and a few extra tips (below) you can make this cream cheese crust no matter what your dough-making experience level. Also, don’t fear the lattice. You can skip it (top the pie with crushed Bugles instead) or do “lazy lattice,” as I did, no weaving required. You’ll sprinkle grated cheese over it anyway, so the weaving of a traditional lattice is not worth the effort as far as I’m concerned.
Tips for Making Artichoke Dip Slab Pie (Or Any Pie)
- Pour Over Chapter One – The Elements of Pie. Cathy’s explanations (and the illustrations) for mixing, rolling, and finishing crusts blend helpful tips with real world practicality. She doesn’t expect you to have a special equipment or a fancy kitchen with stone counters. Her confidence-inspiring ways of dealing with hiccups in the pie crust process will make you a pie crust boss no matter what happens along the way.
- Resting and chilling the dough – leave enough time to do it at several points in the process. Patience is key to incorporating the dough ingredients properly and getting it to behave properly once rolled out. You have to let the dough rest just after you put it together, and chill after rolling it out. Make the dough the night before you want to make the pie. You can make the filling then too, or leave it for later. You can even make the pie, refrigerate it, and bake it hours – or even a day – later. Whichever order you choose, don’t skimp on the resting/chilling time. Your pie crust – and those who devour it – will thank you.
- Ingredient substitutions – Cathy specifies Parmigiano Reggiano for the cheese in the filling and sprinkled on top. It’s rather expensive and you might prefer less costly Romano. (If you don’t know the difference in taste and can find both, I recommend a taste test.) I couldn’t find chives that didn’t cost “an arm and a leg” as my dad used to say. So I substituted Chinese garlic chives that I found at an Asian market. Another substitute might be the thinly sliced green parts of scallions.
- Press out the water from the artichokes. Artichokes straight from the can or bottle are water logged. The filling needs to be relatively dry and to have a concentrated hit of artichoke taste, both of which require dry artichoke hearts. Cathy suggests pressing out the water from the artichoke hearts as you chop them. I found it easier to spin out the water using my lettuce spinner, then press much of the remaining moisture out with paper towels before chopping them.
- Be Fearless and Have Fun. This is just pie-making. No one will die if your dough is a little too this or that. The filling is simple, just chopping and mixing. The object here is to enjoy the results, not to win a contest.
Artichoke Dip Slab Pie
Your favorite artichoke dip nestled in a scrumptious pie crust. The filling is vegetarian and easy to prepare. The crust is a cream cheese dough that is sturdy enough to hold the filling, yet flaky and tasty. Make it ahead for your next holiday party.
Cream Cheese Crust
- 2& 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (325 g)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed & frozen for 20 minutes (113 g)
- 8 tablespoons cream cheese, cubed & refrigerated for 20 minutes (113 g)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup ice water (120 ml) See note below.
- 2-14 ounce cans/jars artichoke hearts in water, drained & chopped (800 g)
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise (not low-fat) (170 g)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (100 g) See tips above.
- 1/2 cup chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley See note about difference between flat leaf & curly parsley.
- 1/2 cup snipped, fresh chives (30 g) See tips above.
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigano Reggiano (I used more - about 4 & 1/2 tablespoons)
Cream Cheese Crust
In the food processor, pulse the flour, butter, cream cheese, and salt until the fats are in small pieces coated with flour, about 15 times. Add the water all at once and process until the mixture almost forms a ball.
Form the dough into a 6- by 4-inch rectangle using plastic wrap and a bench scraper to firmly press the dough into a cohesive form. Wrap tightly and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly. Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece to 11 by 15 inches.
Place that larger piece in the slab pie pan, pressing it into the corners of the pan and allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Refrigerate.
Roll out the second piece of dough to 10 by 14 inches, place it on a lightly floured sheet of parchment, and refrigerate. Heat the oven to 400F; if you have one, place a baking stone, Baking Steel, or inverted baking sheet on the center rack to heat.
Combine the artichokes (make sure they are drained/dried), mayonnaise, 1 cup Parmigiano, the parsley, chives, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper and scoop into the chilled bottom crust.
Cut lattice strips from the chilled top crust. Spread the filling evenly in the bottom crust and lattice the top.
Combine the egg yolk and water in a small bowl. Dip a pastry brush into the egg wash and lightly glaze the lattice. Scatter the 3 tablespoons Parmigiano over the surface of the pie. Slide the pie into the oven (on top of the steel, stone, or baking sheet, if using) and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is browned and glossy, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Flat leaf or Italian parsley is often near cilantro in the produce aisle. They look similar but taste quite different. Typically, they have a tie indicating which herb it is - check the tie if you're uncertain. Flat leaf parsley has a lovely taste, not sharp but recognizable. Do not use curly parsley, which is less tasty and used primarily for decoration.
To make ice water for the crust, add ice cubes to cold water, let it stand for a few minutes, then fish out the ice cubes and measure the required 1/2 cup of water.
Swaps: Add a small can of green chiles or small jar diced pimentos, drained, to the filling—or add both. Top with crushed Bugles instead of doing a lattice if you prefer.
PS – On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I made another pie from the book, the Chocolate Pecan Slab Pie. It was also a huge hit. While I had a bit of trouble sliding a metal spatula underneath the chocolate crust, no one seemed to mind. What’s more, even those who claimed to be full from dinner were soon seen cutting themselves an extra slice, using the old “I’m just evening out the pie” excuse. Next time I make that one, I’ll really go to town and drizzle some of my easy homemade salted caramel sauce on it. Whoa!!!