Please consult the OU's guidelines for checking fruits and vegetables.

Spinach and Artichoke Casserole (dairy)

Eileen Goltz. | Dairy

Spinach, Artichokes and Oregano tend to be highly infested with small insects throughout the year. Please check “Special Instructions” below for information on insect infestation.

Due to the difficulty involved in checking and cleaning artichoke hearts, they are not presently allowed in OU restaurants unless nearly all the leaves have been removed.

Ingredients

8 ounces marinated artichoke hearts (2 small jars), drained (you can save the marinade to use in a salad dressing)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
20 ounces spinach, cooked, drained and squeezed dry (use 2 packages of thawed, frozen spinach or about 1 1/2 pounds cooked, fresh spinach)
1 teaspoon oregano

Dressing:
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup olive oil


Instructions

Preheat oven to 325. Spread artichoke hearts in the bottom of a buttered casserole dish, in roughly one layer.  Top with spinach. In a bowl combine the soft cream cheese, oregano, butter and cheese. Mix to combine. Spread the mixture evenly on top of the artichoke hearts. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes.

In a small jar with a lid, combine the vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper and sugar; shake well. Pour in oil and shake until well blended.

Spinach Insect Inspection: Spinach and arugula tend to be highly infested throughout the year. Light green thrips are often found in the small curls of the leaves. Occasionally, worms may be found in burrows within the body of the leaf. Look for a narrow (1/8_) translucent burrow speckled with black dots breaking up the deep green color of the leaf. These burrows will often trap the worm within the leaf. To rid the leaf of these worms, carefully slit the bumpy part within the burrow with a sharp knife and remove the worm. Please note Only flat leaf spinach is recommended because its flat surface lends itself to efficient washing. Curly leaf spinach is difficult to clean and check. It is therefore not recommended. Spinach Inspection: 1. Soak leaves in a solution of cold water and vegetable wash. The proper amount of vegetable wash has been added when some bubbles are observed in the water. (In the absence of vegetable wash, several drops of concentrated non-scented liquid detergent may be used. However, for health reasons, care must be taken to thoroughly rinse off the soapy solution.) 2. Separate spinach leaves and agitate in the soapy solution. 3. Using a heavy stream of water or a power hose, remove all foreign matter and soap from the leaf surface. Alternatively, a vegetable brush may be used on both sides of the leaf. 4. Several leaves should be checked over a light box or under strong overhead light to verify that the washing procedure has been effective. Both sides of the leaf must be checked. 5. If it is practical, it is best to check each leaf. Artichokes Insect Inspection: Artichokes can be heavily infested with both aphids and thrips. These insects penetrate deeply between the thick leaves, which provide them with food and shelter. Thus, insects may even be found between the innermost layers of leaves around the heart. Fresh artichokes may be prepared for use in one of the following ways: 1. If the artichoke leaves are desired, then: After cooking the artichoke, pull away each leaf and examine it for small green aphids or gray/black thrips. Pay careful attention to the stem of the leaf (i.e., where the leafwas connected to the solid base). 2. If the heart of the artichoke is desired, then: The artichoke leaves that wrap around the heart of the artichoke should be spread apart, making space between each leaf. Carefully examine between the leaves. If there is no sign of insect infestation, the artichoke heart may be used after a thorough washing. 3. The solid artichoke bottom, not surrounded by any leaves, may be used without any inspection. However, they should be rinsed prior to using. Please note: Uncertified canned or jarred artichokes may present morethan one Kashruth concern. They may not be used even if one were to check them scrupulously for insects. Oregano Insect Inspection: Fresh oregano and other herbs are often used as spices or garnishing. Aphids, thrips and other insects may often be found on the leaves and stems of these herbs. Insects tend to nestle in the crevices between the leaves and branches of herbs. These insects can curl up and stick to the leaf once they come in contact with water. Inspection Instructions: 1. Soak herbs in a solution of cold water and vegetable wash. The proper amount of vegetable wash has been added when some bubbles are observed in the water. (In the absence of vegetable wash, several drops of concentrated non-scented liquid detergent may be used. However, for health reasons, thoroughly rinse off the soapy solution.) 2. Agitate the herbs in the soapy water, in order to loosen the sticking excretion of the bugs. 3. Using a heavy stream of water, thoroughly wash off the soap and other foreign matter from the herbs. 4. Check both sides of each leaf under direct light. 5. If one or two insects are found, rewash the herbs. 6. If any insects are found after repeating the agitation process twice, the entire bunch must be discarded.

Spinach, Artichokes and Oregano tend to be highly infested with small insects throughout the year. Please check “Special Instructions” below for information on insect infestation.

Due to the difficulty involved in checking and cleaning artichoke hearts, they are not presently allowed in OU restaurants unless nearly all the leaves have been removed.