"Real Snacks" Chili Con Queso & Bean Dip

Chile Con Queso

From: Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk by Lara Ferroni
Makes 11⁄2 cups dip

It’s hard for me to imagine a more perfect food than chile con queso. The melty, creamy cheese with plenty of kick from chiles is heavenly whether spread on a chip or poured over a piece of toast. To make sure your dip is creamy and not grainy, it is important not to rush the melting.

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped onion
  • 1⁄2 cup canned green chiles
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
  • 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon white spelt flour
  • 2 ounces grated Monterey Jack, Colby, or cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco or Cotija
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Combine the butter, onion, and chiles in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato and oregano and cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the cream, buttermilk, and flour and bring to a simmer to thicken slightly, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese and gently stir to melt.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately, topped with the queso fresco.

For gluten-free Chile Con Queso, replace the spelt flour with an equal amount of arrowroot powder.

For a vegan alternative to Chile Con Queso, make the vegan version of the Onion Dip (page 116), and stir in a tablespoon of pickled chile peppers (like Mama Lil’s).

Bean Dip

Makes 11⁄2 cups dip

Forget about those cans of brown mush that look more like dog than people food. This dip is flavorful and beautiful, in a dip sort of way. Instead of using the traditional pinto beans, I prefer to use red lentils, which retain a little of their rosy color. Black-eyed peas are also great in this recipe, but if you aren’t starting with canned peas, make sure you soak the peas overnight and then drain them before proceeding with the recipe.

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1⁄4 onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped chives or scallions
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Combine the lentils and onion in a heavy- bottomed saucepan. Add enough water to cover the lentils. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Cover the saucepan and cook on low until the lentils are quite soft and have lost any of their mealy texture, 5 to 10 minutes, adding a little more water if the lentils look dry.
  • Remove from the heat and let the lentils cool.
  • Remove the onion and discard.
  • Add the olive oil and lemon juice and mash the mixture with a fork.
  • Transfer the dip to a bowl and stir in the chives.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

This dip is naturally gluten-free and vegan.
 

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