Mulitmedia seven-layer dip

Last night, I went to a friend’s house for drinks, where one of the snacks was seven-layer dip. It brought back great memories of my old friend Laurie Kesselman, who made an excellent version of this for many get-togethers on her roof in the West Village, as well as my baby shower and numerous other parties – she was a real pro at it. It’s really quite delicious and satisfying!

For those unfamiliar with this dish (i.e. Australians), it’s a great tex-mex vegetarian (usually) party dish that’s good for any season. The basic concept is layering beans, guacamole, sour cream, chopped up green (spring) onions, diced tomatoes, chopped black olives, and shredded cheese, or you can add in green peppers, jalapeno, ground beef, or anything else that takes your fancy. I went hunting for a recipe online and found so many – you can start from scratch with making your own refried beans, or make it up from seasoning mixes and pre-prepared dips from the supermarket. You can even serve the beans hot under all the other ingredients.

I really like the Food Network’s version, which uses lots of fresh herbs and lettuce and healthier substitutes for some of the ingredients, such as greek yogurt for the sour cream and rinsed canned black beans instead of canned refried beans – a picture and the recipe is below. But for pure entertainment value, take a look at this video on Cool!

Food Network’s Six Layers and a Chip Dip
From Food Network Kitchens

2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1(15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups lowfat shredded Cheddar
2 ripe avocados, preferably Hass
1 jalapeno, stemmed, finely chopped, (with seeds for more heat)
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups nonfat yogurt, preferably Greek
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and some stems, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
3 ripe medium tomatoes, diced
5 scallions (white and green), thinly sliced
Baked tortilla chips, for dipping

On a cutting board, smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Put the garlic, beans, chili powder, water, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Spread in the bottom of a 2 quart casserole or gratin dish, or in individual sized dishes, as desired.
Scatter the cheese over the beans. Halve and seed the avocados, then mash with the jalapeno and another teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Spread a layer of the avocado over the cheese, and then scatter the lettuce on top.
Mix the yogurt with the cilantro and then spread over the lettuce. Add a layer of tomatoes and finally scatter the scallions on top. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with a few cilantro sprigs and serve with baked chips.