Feed your crew with this crowd-pleaser! Baked on a sheet pan and stuffed with everybody’s favorite party food, spinach artichoke dip, this easy-to-do sandwich will have your fans cheering for more!
Whether or not you plan to watch the big game this weekend, my “spinach-artichoke dip” panini is an awesome way to host a gathering of hungry friends and family. The hugely popular classic only gets better when sandwiched inside soft, olive oil infused focaccia bread and toasted up on a sheet pan!
Baking it on a sheet pan is such a simple method to get it nice and crisp on the outside, melty and gooey on the inside. And when you factor in the option of assembling ahead and popping it in the oven when you’re ready to go, I can’t think of a more perfect party food.
Let’s talk about the focaccia for a sec. I make my own, because “hi”, I’m obsessed with cooking and baking 😂.
But if you are able to find a good quality store-bought focaccia, by all means go ahead and use it. Just make sure it measures roughly 9 x 12 inches, or if it’s a circle, about 12-inches in diameter. Otherwise, your ratio of filling to bread will be off. If you do decide to make your own, check out my recipe in my Zest cookbook. It makes a smaller 9 x 9-inch loaf, so you’ll need to increase it by about half for this recipe, and bake it in a 9 x 12-inch pan.
Now for a few tips on the filling: Both spinach and canned artichoke hold a LOT of water, and you don’t want your filling to be soggy. Press the artichoke hearts together in your hands and squeeze out (discard) as much liquid as possible before adding to the pan, and don’t worry if they break apart. They’ll all get chopped up in there anyway. And for the spinach, I prefer using fresh (the frozen kind has even more water!), and cook it down until you don’t see any liquid left.
I love the way a little dried mint and fresh lemon zest made the garlicky spinach and artichoke pop, but my husband requested even more garlic flavor. If you like your food a little more piquante, stir in an additional finely chopped or grated raw garlic clove into the filling once it has cooled.
And finally! I must mention, around here we are in love with jarred Calabrian chili peppers, and slathered them all over our paninis when we tested these. Divina makes a nice version that’s widely available at specialty grocers, as well as many standard, larger and well-stocked stores. Look for them among other jarred chilis.
What can I prep ahead?
- The filling can be prepped ahead and refrigerated.
- The panini can be assembled, placed on the sheet pan and refrigerated for up to 6 hours until ready to bake.
Are there any tips or tricks?
- Artichoke hearts hold a LOT of water. I squeeze them out, chop them, then squeeze them again once they are chopped. You will be amazed how much liquid comes out.
- Speaking of artichoke hearts, make sure to buy whole artichoke hearts canned in water. You don’t want to use marinated hearts for this.
- If you happen to have a lemon lying around, zest a little into the filling. It adds a lovely brightness to the filling.
- I love how dried mint interplays with the spinach, artichokes and ricotta, but if you like you can use oregano instead.
- A fun substitution for the parmigiano would be crumbled feta. It’ll give it more of a briny, Greek-inspired flavor.
Did you really just go there?
Just sayin’ – if you are going to be making your own focaccia for this (recipe in my Zest cookbook, though as noted above, increase by half for this recipe), why not form the dough into a football shape for the big game?
Cheesy… yes, but so is the filling! A match made in heaven. It would look so cute, especially if you sliced olives into strips and laid them out to mimic the laces on the ball.
Sheet Pan “Spinach-Artichoke Dip” Panini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves chopped finely or grated
- 12- ounces fresh spinach chopped
- 15- ounce can artichoke hearts in water drained and chopped
- 8- ounces ricotta cheese
- 8- ounces fresh mozzarella cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¼ cup grated parmigiano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried mint or substitute oregano
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Store-bought or homemade focaccia bread about 9 x 12”
- Preheat your oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach, chopped artichoke hearts and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated. And then, cook for a few more minutes to ensure it is well dried out. Add the mint and pepper flakes and set aside.
- Place the ricotta in a medium bowl, and use a whisk to get it nice and creamy. Stir in the mozzarella and parmigiano, then add the slightly cooled spinach mixture.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the focaccia horizontally into even top and bottom layers. Place the bottom layer on the parchment lined sheet pan and spread the filling out evenly. Place the top on and cover with foil. (At this point you can refrigerate up to 6 hours). Pop the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the filling is melted and gooey and the top is golden.
- Remove to a cutting board and cut into 12 serving pieces. Serve warm.