This recipe from “Lighten Up” by Virginia Willis is, as she says, a cheesy, greasy spinach dip. She worked hard to find something as yummy, but better for us all, whether at a holiday party or in front of the TV for a football game. I omitted the carrot, but she always uses it.

Makes 2 cups to serve 16

Author Virginia Willis says: “Pureed white beans, which are commonly used as a healthy ‘substitute’ in spinach dip, taste nothing like the fantastically fatty combination of mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream.

“Swapping in beans might work in some recipes, but not here. I’m happy to say I prevailed by using traditional ingredients but scaling back as much as possible on the mayo and sour cream.

“My secret for dealing with mayonnaise is to use half light mayonnaise and half plain 2 percent Greek yogurt.

“(I find the nonfat yogurt to be oddly chalky.) I’ve also amped up the nutrition by adding a carrot and used full-flavored Parmigiano-Reggiano and feta cheese.”


1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained

1 carrot, peeled and grated on the fine side of a box grater (optional)

2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1/3 cup light sour cream

1/3 cup plain 2 percent Greek yogurt

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces)

Hot sauce

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)


Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a medium ovenproof baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, optional grated carrot, garlic, sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, and 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Add hot sauce to taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread to an even thickness. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1⁄4 cup of Parmesan and the crumbled feta. Transfer to the oven and bake until the top browns and the dip heats through, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from “Lighten Up, Y’all” by Virginia Willis (Ten Speed Press 2015).