We had a heat wave recently (which I blogged about here) which got me thinking about foods to eat in heat wave. Ideally I always want all food to be fresh and delicious, but since there’s a heat wave, I don’t necessarily want to spend a bunch of time making it, and I certainly don’t want to cook with heat. Also, you want to eat something chilled.
There are certainly salads, cold noodles, gazpacho, deli salads, ceviche… while I was brainstorming, I remembered grocery store bean dip. Often labeled as “five layer” or “seven layer” bean dips, and I’ve definitely seen “nine layer bean dips.”
Bean dip is brilliant because it’s cold refried beans. When else is a Spanish teacher going to tell you to bust out a can of refried beans, and eat it cold? It’s filling, it’s nutritious, it’s delicious, it’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s a little bit trashy for days when it’s too damn hot to be classy.
I’ll just tell you what my eleven layers are, you can put them down in any order you want, omit whatever you want, add whatever layers you want. Who cares? It’s bean dip, for goodness sakes, you’re not going to publish an article with a photo about bean dip, are you?
Beans. Traditionally this is the bottom layer, but who cares. You can refry your own beans from your friljoles de la olla, but I find that to be a lot of cooking, a lot of effort, and in total way too classy for a bean dip on a hot day. I, my friends, open a can of vegetarian refried beans from the supermarket. Yes.
Lately I’ve been mixing my can-o-beans with a third of a bar of cream cheese using the electric beater, because I read it somewhere. Some people add other dairy, some add a jar of salsa. Whatever, do what you want. I tried the cream cheese/electric beaters for kicks, and it’s good. Next time I’ll just use a plain can of beans.
Sour cream. Sure you can use crema, the “Mexican style cream,” or you can go to the Mexican grocery store and get the crema salvadoreña, la oaxaqueña, la guatemalteca, whatever! It’s a free country.
Diced Tomatoes. I mixed mine with chopped green onion, because I didn’t want a whole layer of green onion.
Cheese. Tonight I grated some extra sharp cheddar, but earlier this week I just bought some Mexican style pre-shred. Who cares.
Guacamolito. Listen, if you have perfect avocados, just slice them carefully and that’s the best. However, perfect avocados do turn brown, so if you need them to stay green for more than 30 min, I suggest you dice those avocados and toss them with lime juice. I threw in cilantro. There is no reason to make a complex, highly spiced guacamole; this is bean dip, people.
Sliced chiles. I don’t do this one in my house because of sensitive stomachs, but if it was just me, I would slice chiles.
Store-bought salsa from a jar. I don’t do this, because even though I’m trying not to be a snob about this recipe, I have to draw the line somewhere. I could make salsa in my molcajete but I don’t want to roast or boil chiles, and I don’t want to wash a molcajete or a blender. So I just omit salsa altogether. Also, salsas in bean dip often lead to pools of water in the bean dip, which is bad bean dip. No pooled liquid allowed!
Canned black olives. This is the funniest layer, because it confuses Mexican people and yet is still delicious. You can buy them pre-sliced or crushed, and then just crack open the can and slap on a layer.
The recipe is this: layer all the layers and serve with chips. In my opinion, the thicker the chips, the better. I hate those light crispy worthless tortilla chips that crumble like pastry. I want tortilla chips that came from tortillas.
You may be wondering about my title, “eleven layer bean dip” when I obviously did not list eleven layers. You’ll also notice that I even omit some the layers that I listed above, so I’m not even getting close to eleven layers. Here’s the secret: it’s a lie. The number eleven just makes it sound impressive. It’s eleven because eleven sounds better than nine. It’s really only five or six layers.
Just lie, and if people denounce you for it, tell them it was just some marketing. Don’t bother trying to list the three ingredients of the guacamolito, or try to say that the tomatoes and green onions count as two layers. Confess and come clean. Nobody cares.
Or tell them, it’s eleven because we turned the flavor up to eleven. They will have no choice but to concede.