You probably all know the 7 layer dip recipe. What’s not to love about a huge scoop full of all those delicious ingredients on a crispy chip? Most people I know make it as a cold appetizer, but I much prefer to eat it hot and steamy from the oven, served with warm tortilla chips. There’s something really satisfying about having those flavors meld and all that gooey baked cheese on top. This is everything good about a taco, but in dip form.
For those of you not eating meat, this Mexican dip makes a perfectly delicious and satisfying vegetarian taco or burrito filling. I could eat it every day and not get tired of it.
I absolutely love beans, but gummy, pasty, refried bean mush is not my idea of the way to eat them. I much prefer them whole so that you can enjoy the texture of each individual little bean. (The fact that my last name is Bean, is probably not a coincidence here!) So when I make a 7 layer dip, or anything with beans for that matter, I stay as far away from the refried, mashed up ones as possible. For this recipe, I suggest using black beans, but you can use other varieties if you wish. I’ve made this before with black eyed peas and cannellini beans and no one complained. It disappeared just as fast.
You can buy dried beans in a bag, and they’re cheaper. But unless you think to start the process at least one or two days ahead, your dish will be minus the beans. If you do decide to buy dried, you’ll need to wash them thoroughly and soak them overnight in a pot of water to soften them up before cooking. If I’m making bean soup, for example, I like to start with dried beans. They just taste fresher and aren’t mushy like canned beans can get once you cook them several hours. After they’re rinsed, I throw them in the crock pot to soak overnight. Just don’t turn on the crock pot. Let them sit and soak. If I sat in a tub of water that long, I would look like a prune, but the beans love it. They need time to re-hydrate and plump back up. When you first put them in, they’re like little rocks. After soaking over night, they are much happier, and ready to be cooked.
The next morning, you can cook the beans in the soaking water, but I think it tastes better to drain it off and start over with fresh water or broth, either vegetable or chicken.
If you’re making soup, you can then just toss in the other ingredients and let the pot do all the work. I do the prep for the vegetables or whatever else the recipe calls for the night before and put them in zip top bags in the refrigerator so they are ready to go.
When I want something fast, like this dip recipe, however, it’s so much easier to use a can of beans that are ready to eat. Just make sure you always drain the beans and then rinse them to remove all the starch and salt they’re packed in. Even low sodium beans contain sodium. Sometimes canned vegetables also have a “tinny” taste, that really turns me off. So definitely rinse, drain and let those beans dry before you use them. Trust me, you’ll be much happier with the final product.
Mexican dip is one of my definite go-to recipes. You can use a variety of ingredients to change it up, or as I sometimes do, to clean out the refrigerator. There are a lots of choices when it comes to beans. Black beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, cannellini beans, red beans, kidney beans and many more are available in every grocery store. You can add a can of whole kernel corn or hominy, again, rinsed and drained. You can add browned and well drained ground beef, turkey or sausage with an added kick from cumin and cayenne pepper or a packet of taco seasoning mix. You can add cooked rice or quinoa. You can keep layering to your heart’s content. You get the idea.
For this particular appetizer, I started with a can of black beans. The second layer is 1/4 cup of diced red onion. You can add more if you really like onions. Layer number three is a cup of well drained salsa. If you don’t drain the salsa, your dip will be watery. Next comes the guacamole. Make it fresh, or use a good quality store brand. Please don’t use “guacamole dip,” as it’s mostly sour cream and has very little avocado taste. Now for the olives. I adore black olives, so I really lay those on. Here I used 1/2 cup of sliced ripe olives. You can chop them up if you like, but since I want to get the full effect of the olives, both in taste and texture, I like them sliced in half. Layer number six is a thick frosting of sour cream. Spicy might as well be my middle name, so on top of the sour cream goes 1/4 cup jalapeño peppers. If you use jalapeños from a jar, just make sure they are well drained. Once again, like the salsa, if they aren’t drained, your dip will become a soupy mess. Not what we’re aiming for here. Now for the cheese, lots of glorious, extra sharp cheddar is what I go for. But use whatever kind of cheese you prefer, or already have on hand. Colby and pepper jack are both good choices, but you can use smoked gouda, or even mozzarella.
If you’ve been counting, we’re now up to eight layers. Pop that dish into the oven at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes to heat it all the way through and lightly brown the cheese. Once it comes out of the oven, I top it with diced tomatoes. I used cherry tomatoes, because that’s what I had on hand. And the final touch: gently torn cilantro leaves for a bit more color and taste. That got us up to 10 luscious layers of Mexican deliciousness!
You can always skip the ingredients you don’t like, or add others you do like. This is definitely not a one size fits all recipe. Have fun with it. After all, adults need to play with their food just like kids do.
I made this last night, and the weather was perfect. We had a fire in the fire pit, so of course I served it up outside along with a large basket of chips and lots of Mexican beer. There were absolutely no leftovers, and the dish was practically clean after I peeled off the cheese that was stuck to the sides. There wasn’t even anything left for the dog to lick out of the bowl. Shadow was very disappointed. She only got a few chips, poor puppy.
You just can’t go wrong here. Mix and match your ingredients to make it truly your creation. Enjoy your Cinco de Mayo, and any party by serving this appetizer.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to drain the beans, salsa, olives, and jalapeños! You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
SPICY BAKED MEXICAN DIP
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30 Minutes
Oven: 350 degrees F
Serves: 8-10 Appetizer Servings
1 can of black beans, drained, rinsed well and allowed to dry