One of my all-time favorite cuisines is Mexican…and it can so easily be ‘cleaned up’ by replacing brown or black rice for white, and getting good amounts of protein from the many bean dishes…or using small amounts of organic free-range chicken. A really versatile Mexican dish is the one you’ve probably had a version of at a party in the past…some type of layered dip. My eyes light up and my mouth starts watering when I see it! Layer upon layer of delicious and colorful ingredients that are sure to add the perfect starter or side to your summer cookout or Mexican meal.
Unfortunately, sometimes those layers are constructed of less-than-appetizing guacamole from the frozen food section…a thick slathering of sour cream…with 3-4 kinds of heart-clogging dairy cheese on top. For those who are either lactose intolerant or who have made an intentional decision to get their calcium from greens and other plant-based sources (plant milks, for example), I was determined to find a version of this dish that would ‘ditch the dairy’ but be every bit as satisfying as the original!
My search ended when I found a cashew-based cheese sauce that would replace the sour cream and cheese…and then used the other healthy layers from past versions. The result was a delicious burst of flavor combinations with every bite! (This cheese sauce is so delicious…I promise you won’t miss the grated stuff!!).
A word of warning: no matter what recipe you use, this layered dip is a dish that starts out like a feast for the eyes but gets ugly really quick! You might want to make two small ones instead of one large. Then you can pull a ‘quick switch’ for your party guests when the first round takes a turn for the worse!!
|South of the Border Layered Dip|| |
- CHEESE SAUCE:
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water at least 30 minutes, drained and rinsed
- 1TB. tahini (sesame butter)
- 1 roasted red pepper (rinsed and drained from jar or prepared from fresh)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes (I use Red Star brand)
- 1 TB. tamari (or Bragg's liquid aminos or low-sodium soy sauce)
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup water
- BEAN DIP:
- 1 16-oz. can vegetarian re-fried beans
- 1 cup prepared or fresh salsa (desired level of 'heat')
- 1½ tsp. chili powder
- GARNISHES: (I like to layer these on top for an array of color and nutrients!!)
- Sliced avocado
- Rough-chopped cilantro
- Sliced green onions
- Diced tomatoes (or pico de gallo)
- Sliced black olives
- CHEESE SAUCE:
- In a Vitamix (or other powerful blender), combine cashews, tahini, roasted red pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, tamari, lemon zest/juice, cayenne pepper, and water. Blend on high until smooth and set aside.
- BEAN DIP:
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place beans, salsa, and chili powder. Heat and stir just until the mixture combines.
- Spread bean dip evenly onto the bottom of a medium-sized (or two small!) serving bowl(s), baking dish(es) or platter(s). Smooth the surface and pour some or all of the cheese sauce over top (if you decide not to use it all, the extra can be used over veggies later or as a stand-alone dip). Garnish with the items listed above and serve with a healthier version of chips (I used a low-salt version of organic blue corn/tortilla chips).
- You'll never want to go back to the old version again!! ENJOY!!