Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bacon

TOTAL TIME : 35 mins

6 slices bacon (about 1/3 pound), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped, or 1 (12-ounce) bunch fresh spinach, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or slightly less table salt)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup sour cream
Pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, or celery sticks, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Cook the bacon:
Place the chopped bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat until crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the skillet. Set some of the bacon aside for sprinkling over top the dip.

Cook the vegetables:
Add the garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the artichoke hearts, spinach, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until artichokes are warmed through and the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes.

Combine with the cheeses:
In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, shredded Italian cheese blend, sour cream, reserved bacon, and spinach-artichoke mixture until thoroughly combined.

Bake and serve:
Transfer the mixture to a 1- to 2-quart baking dish and bake until bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then sprinkle with reserved bacon and serve with pita chips.

This dip is best eaten right away while hot. If it cools a bit and starts to firm up, microwave it for a minute or two to melt the cheese again.