Creamy spinach yogurt dip that is incredibly tasty, easy and healthy. This Persian dip, borani esfenaj is topped with aromatic sizzled mint, fried onions and walnuts. A crowd pleaser for sure!
Table of Contents
Persian Spinach Dip
Borani is a creamy Persian dip, that combines thick drained yogurt and vegetables. Popular among these Persian dips, is borani esfenaj (spinach borani).
Spinach and dips are both hot favorites. You combine the two and it becomes an evergreen choice.
This Persian rendition of the healthy spinach dip is quiet different. It is an easy recipe, but uses layers of flavors and textures.
It is pretty healthy and does not need tons of cheese, mayo and rich ingredients to make it taste awesome.
Ingredients for Spinach Yogurt Dip
Here are some notes on the ingredients. Check recipe card for the quantities.
- Spinach: We saute regular fresh spinach and chop it up, to make the dip scoop-able. You can also use baby spinach and blanch it to retain color (see recipe notes), but I find that can be a bit stringy and not easy to scoop.
- Greek Yogurt: Whole milk yogurt makes this creamy, but reduced fat is okay. If using non-dairy yogurt, make sure it is creamy.
- Onions: I prefer shallots for flavor and smaller slices. If using regular onion, quarter and slice, to make it easy to scoop.
- Walnuts: Toasting enhances flavor and makes them crisp.
- Garlic: Combining freshly grated garlic with lemon juice and letting it stand, will lower the pungency.
- Dried Mint: Gives the classic Persian taste. To make it at home follow this tutorial.
- Saffron: Again for that classic touch, but is optional. You could use turmeric instead of saffron, but add it to the mint oil.
- Other Ingredients: lemon Juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper.
How To Make Healthy Spinach Dip
Below is a brief overview. Full recipe is at the end of blog post.
- Prep — Toast walnuts. Combine garlic with lemon juice. Cut shallots or onions and spinach.
- Cook — Fry onions and saute spinach. Alternately blanch baby spinach.
- Combine — To garlic mixture, add spinach, half onions, yogurt, half walnuts, pepper and stir. Adjust seasoning per taste.
- Garnish — Top with mint oil, fried onions, walnuts and saffron water.
- Use whole milk yogurt and/or enhance flavor with feta cheese.
- Cut vegetables in uniform and small size.
- Sautéed spinach is softer and flavorful. Blanched spinach is more green but can be stringy or chewy in texture.
- Do squeeze out the juices from spinach as well as possible. The drained juices can be used in other dishes.
How To Serve It
This dip is best served at room temperature or cold. Do not heat it as the yogurt will curdle. Here are some serving suggestions for you.
- With crispy and sturdy chips or crackers (compliments the dip very well). I loved it with Stacy’s pita chips.
- Try with flatbreads — lavash, pita bread or skillet flatbread.
- Dip with veggies — carrot or celery sticks are a refreshing, light and low-carb option.
- Leftovers can be used as a sandwich filling.
Spinach Dip Variations
Persian spinach dip is vegetarian, low carb, gluten free, egg free, soy free and grain free. Here are few variations for you to try.
- Red Chili flakes: Replace dried mint with red chili flakes, oregano and grated garlic when making the sizzled oil topping.
- Feta or Parmesan Cheese: Process some feta cheese into a whipped feta and stir it into yogurt. Or add a dash of very finely grated parmesan cheese.
- Sour Cream, Creme Fraiche or Labneh: Stir in any of these into the yogurt for a party dip.
- Vegan and Dairy Free: Try creamy dairy-free yogurt for the dip.
- Low Sodium: Reduce salt and use more lemon juice and herbs for flavor.
- Make Ahead — Saute the spinach or make the dip one day ahead of serving. The flavors will meld together well. If blanching spinach, you can do that up to three days ahead.
- Storage — This Greek yogurt spinach dip will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but the spinach color will darken. Stir before serving. It is not freezer friendly.
Is Spinach Dip Healthy?
Most popular spinach dips are loaded with cheese and mayonnaise. But this recipe is a great way to sneak in vegetables into a creamy dip. Here we have three nutrition stars — spinach, yogurt and walnuts.
Spinach is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium and folic acid. Regular consumption of spinach may support health benefits such as better diabetes management, lower blood pressure, bone health, intestinal health, cancer prevention, good hair and skin.
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, high quality protein and calcium. And is associated with prevention of osteoporosis, lowering of high blood pressure, contribution to gut health and fullness. Be sure to buy yogurt with live and active cultures.
Walnuts provide healthy fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, protein and minerals such as — copper, manganese, magnesium. They are a great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
More Healthy Dips
Other interesting dips and sauces to try on the blog.
- Pomegranate Salsa Dip — Something different to enjoy with cream cheese and crackers.
- Mast-O-Musir — Use this Persian yogurt dip like Tzatziki.
- Zaalouk — A popular Moroccan eggplant dip.
- Butter Bean Mash Dip —The tasty but less known cousin of hummus.
★ DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? PLEASE COMMENT AND GIVE IT A STAR RATING BELOW!
Spinach Yogurt Dip (Borani)
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 yellow onion small, or shallot
- 6 ounces spinach fresh, 5 cups, see note for frozen
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 2 cups Greek yogurt plain, whole milk or regular
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- ¼ teaspoon saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet until golden brown, about 8 minutes (or toast in skillet). Allow to cool and chop coarsely.
- In a medium bowl, combine garlic, ⅛ teaspoon salt, lemon juice and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Peel, quarter and cut onion into thin slices. Remove tough stems from spinach.
- In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil at medium-high. Fry onions, stirring in between, until light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate and set aside.
- Add spinach in batches to the skillet and saute until it wilts, 5 minutes; avoid overcooking. Let cool, then squeeze out and drain excess juices. Coarsely chop and stir in ¼ teaspoon salt. (See notes for baby spinach and retaining green color)
- To the garlic mixture, add yogurt, cooled spinach, half the fried onions and walnuts, pepper and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning as per taste. Using the back of a spoon, make wavy patterns on the surface.
- In a small saucepan, heat remaining oil at medium. Remove from heat, add dried mint and let sizzle; season with ⅛ teaspoon salt. Drizzle the mint oil over yogurt dip. Garnish with remaining fried onions, walnuts and saffron water (if using).
- Serve with flatbreads, pita chips or raw vegetables.
- Blanched Baby Spinach: If using baby spinach, add it to a pot of salted boiled water and blanch for 20 seconds (adjust added salt). Transfer to ice water, steep for a minute, then drain and squeeze dry.
- Frozen Spinach: I have not tried this, but you may try using half a package of frozen spinach (5 ounces). Squeeze out the juices well.
- Spices: You could use turmeric instead of saffron, but add it to the mint oil.
- Make Ahead: Saute the spinach or make the dip one day ahead of serving. If blanching spinach, you can do that up to three days ahead.
- Storage: The dip will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but the spinach color will darken. Stir before serving. It is not freezer friendly.
- For other variations, tips and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.