This healthy spinach dip called borani esfanaj is a Persian style dip that’s perfect for parties or picnics. Serve it with fresh cut vegetables and crackers for an easy appetizer that’s better than any premade option you can buy at the store.
Spinach dip is always a crowd-pleaser; problem is it’s usually loaded with lots of cheese and mayo making it a less than healthy option despite the fact that there’s spinach in it. The good news is, if you’re looking for a lighter option that’s still packed with flavor than I have the recipe for you, it’s called borani esfenaj and it’s a Persian yogurt spinach dip that everyone should have in their appetizer arsenal.
This healthy spinach dip is made in a matter of minutes, pairs perfectly with fresh vegetables, crackers or bread and tastes better than anything you could pick up at the store. There are no powdered packets or heavy cheeses involved just a brilliant combination of garlic, scallions, spinach, olive oil and yogurt topped with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts. It’s a simple and flavorful dish that makes a great dip for any gathering.
What is Borani Esfenaj?
Yogurt is a staple in Persian cuisine and borani esfenaj consists of cooked spinach, garlic and onions stirred into thick (often drained) yogurt and topped with walnuts. It’s typically served with fresh vegetables and bread for dipping.
It also happens to be one of the easiest and tastiest dips you can make. In fact it tastes even better if it’s made a day in advance so it’s a great make-ahead option for parties or picnics.
(Here are a few notes about the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. As always find the full list of ingredients and directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- Spinach – I like baby spinach leaves the best as they cook quickly and are the most tender, but you can substitute regular spinach if needed just be sure to remove the stems. You can also use frozen spinach but will need to thaw and wring out the water before using it.
- Garlic – I like a medium amount of garlic for this recipe, not so much that it hits you over the head but enough that the flavor really comes through once it’s mixed in with the yogurt. Feel free to adjust the amount up or down based on your preference.
- Scallions – I prefer the milder taste of scallion to that of white onions for this recipe but if even scallions aren’t your thing feel free to leave them out.
- Olive Oil – Choose a good quality olive oil as we will be using it both for cooking and drizzling on top.
- Yogurt – Choose a firm preferably full-fat yogurt. You want something that’s thick enough to be scoopable with a cracker. I like the rich creamy flavor and texture of goat yogurt here but feel free to use your favorite yogurt as long as it’s the right consistency. Even dairy-free works as long as it’s thick enough and rich enough.
- Walnuts – Optional, but a handful of toasted chopped walnuts sprinkled across the top is a nice contrast to the creamy dip.
How to make Spinach Yogurt Dip:
(Here are the basic steps and some helpful tips on how to make the recipe. Find the full directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
- You’ll start by cooking the scallions in the olive oil until softened to which you’ll add your garlic and spinach leaves. The leaves will wilt and release water as they cook down.
- Once most of the liquid has cooked off you’ll leave the mixture to cool off before mixing it into your yogurt.
- Place the dip in the fridge for at least a few hours (or overnight) before serving with the toasted chopped walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.
- Crunchy radishes, Persian cucumbers and pita chips all make great accompaniments.
So make yourself a batch at the beginning of the week and you’ll have a healthy snack or appetizer ready to go all week long!
More Persian Recipes:
This healthy spinach dip is made in a matter of minutes, pairs perfectly with fresh vegetables, crackers or bread and tastes better than anything you could pick up at the store.
- 2 Tablespoons/30ml extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated on a microplane
- 8 ounces/ 226g baby spinach, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons/14g chopped walnuts
- 2 cups/454ml thick plain yogurt
- Fresh vegetables and/or crackers for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the scallions and cook until softened but not browned (about 1-2 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant but not browned. Add the spinach and salt and cook turning the leaves occasionally with tongs as they wilt and cook down. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 F. Place chopped walnuts on a parchment lined sheet pan and toast in oven for 3-5 minutes or until lightly golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Stir together yogurt and cooled spinach mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to serve drizzle dip with extra olive oil and top with toasted walnuts. Serve with vegetables and crackers for dipping.
Substitute regular spinach for baby spinach removing stems before cooking. Substitute frozen spinach for fresh by thawing and wringing out excess moisture before cooking.
Substitute fat-free yogurt for full-fat if desired as long as yogurt is thick. Use either dairy or non-dairy yogurt. If using non-dairy add a teaspoon of lemon juice to yogurt.
Optional, sprinkle with crushed dried mint before serving.
Dip can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reserve walnuts and top when ready to serve.
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, Egg-Free, No Refined Sugar
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 182Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 268mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 6g
Nutritional information for recipes contained on this website, such as calories, fat, carbs, etc. are only estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Sylvie Shirazi is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Gourmande in the Kitchen. For the last 10 years she's been making eating more healthfully easy and accessible with gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and vegan recipes that are free from processed ingredients.