Cooking With Nicole: Seven-Layer Dip

Today, mah friends, I’m going to show just where you can stick that tomato rose from last week: directly into this seven-layer dip! Yes, it’s another seventies staple.

You’ve undoubtedly had a version of this dip. They’ve become common at grocery stores in the past few years, but there’s nothing like making it yourself. Everything is so much more fresh, and you can adjust the layers with whatever you like.

First, you start out with stunning smorgasbord of ingredients:

And a little help from a kitchen must have: The Joy of Cooking:

Here’s the recipe, itself:

Keeping in mind that I grew up in a family home that doubled as a catering biz, I have some “common sense” tips that people who didn’t grow up cooking might not think about. First of all, whenever you make a finger food…make sure it fits in people fingers and their mouths. In the case of a dip like this one, make sure everything’s diced fairly fine. After all, the whole point of this dip is in the name: seven-layers. A person wants all seven-layers in their gob, with every bite. If I leave my olives whole, or cut up great big chunks of tomato, that’s not going to happen.

The second thing to keep in mind when serving large amounts of people is that you want every recipe to be as palatable to as many people as possible. If I was making a tiny version of this dip for 6 close friends, all of whom I knew LOVED spicy foods, I’d use jalepeños. But if I’m taking this to a pot luck with people whom I don’t know well, as this particular dip was, I don’t use the chiles. Why? Because people who love spicy food will still eat this dip without it–it’s still creamy and delicious. But people who hate spicy food won’t touch it if there’s chiles in it. Meaning I go home with a huge quantity of dip that I neither need (hips!) nor do I want (it’s been sitting out at all day).

So always keep in mind the intention of the food (is it a fingerfood?) as well as the intended audience (and cater to the majority).

Otherwise, this dip is completely straightforward. I’d suggest prepping everything before you start layering, just because it makes the smearing all that much more enjoyable. And who doesn’t enjoy a good smear! Here’s me, all ready to go:

Start with your refried beans (I actually use the Frito-Lay Bean Dip, two cans) and your avocado. Don’t skimp on your lime juice. It really adds a fresh zing. I also think this avocado layer is what separates a homemade seven-layer dip from the store bought variety. Whatever they use to preserve avocado and keep it from going brown tastes really preservative-tastic. When you make it at home, all you have are fresh, and fresh-tasting, ingredients:

Then move on to your sour cream layer. I’ve almost never used the entire amount, but I also make this recipe from memory and not from the recipe, which I think is significantly bigger than the one I usually make. That said, keep in mind “balancing” your layers, whenever you make a dip like this. On top of your sour cream comes your diced spring onions. They add a really fresh, sweet, oniony taste:

And, finally, add your diced olives, your diced tomatoes, and your shredded cheese. I use mature cheddar, but use whatever you’d like. Doesn’t it look nummy? And yet… something’s missing…

I know! A tomato rose! Now that’s what I call a seven-layer dip:

I sprinkled this one with some chopped chives I had from making omelettes.  You could also use chopped parsley, cilantro, or some leftover green onion. The green just adds a little contrast to the orange of the cheese and the red of the tomato.

Finally, the recipe says to heat this dip up. To be honest, I’ve never eaten it this way (although I do plan to at some point). I’ve always served it cold, and it’s delicious that way. It’s also a lot easier to transport and keep fresh if it’s not warmed up, if you’re having a picnic or a potluck.

And that, my friends, is a seven-layer dip! Next time you’re tempted to buy one, resist and make it from scratch. It’s so much better, and you can tweak the recipe to suit your own tastes. Love chile? Add a shitload! Like onion?  Use chopped vidalia instead of green onion. Not a fan of raw tomato? Use canned salsa. Once you’ve made it a few times, it takes about 1/2 hour to make, from start to finish, and you have a way tastier product. Plus you get to say, “I made this, bitches!” which always impresses people. Just don’t actually say that, especially the “bitches” part. Just carry the dip out, all normal-like, and absorb the ooohs and aaaaahs. Act humble. Gloat inside.

It’s a cook’s prerogative!

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

6 thoughts on “Cooking With Nicole: Seven-Layer Dip”

  1. Hi Nicole! Seven layer dip – yummo!! I have been making a variation of this recipe for years. Only bad thing is it takes a fair amount of time to make (I make refried beans from scratch if I have time) and it is gone in a flash! But the way I learned it, the layers go: beans, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, green onions, tomatoes, and diced black olives on top. The olives get a fine dice and completely cover the top so it looks all dark and mysterious. Would be a perfect backdrop for the tomato rose! Also, this taught me to appreciate the awesomeness of avocados. I used to turn my nose up at them. But I tried leaving them out of the seven layer dip and it is nowhere near as good. And now I love avocados!! I also see no reason to heat this baby up – it is just great as it. Thanks for the cooking tips! You are as multifaceted as you are talented!!!

  2. Oooo, I like the olives on top idea! That WOULD be mysterious. 😉 And without the broil factor of the original recipe, there really is no reason to have the cheese on top. And thank you for the compliment, it totally made me smile!

  3. I loooooove 7 layer dip. I usually mix my taco seasonings into hamburger or vegetarian veggie crumbles (mmmmm fake meat) and use as the layer on top of the beans. I also use salsa instead of the maters and go ahead and make full on rockin guacamole instead of just an avocado layer.

    I want some now! NOM.

  4. I make the same basic dip — my mother in law calls it Aztec Pie and she bought me a round tray specifically to build the dip on. I leave out the olives — but I like the spring onions idea. I usually use sweet onions, minced.

    My real problem with making the dip is that I'm always making it at the last minute and I am always rushing. Which would be why I cut myself while attempting to slice the avocado open.

    I've never heated it — I'm not sure about some of these ingredients under the broiler — but it might be really good. Whatever, it's always really popular.

    Now I need to practice making tomato roses as you've so nicely explained in another blog post.

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