Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Snacks for Dinner

Mmmm. I’ve had bean dip on the brain all stinking day long. And it was one of those days, you know. We had family visiting for the holiday weekend, and I was sad to see them leave so I was in a bit of a funk already. The Carnivore went to work today (with plans to work uber-late) after spending a fun three days with us, and my to-do list for today was ugly. Very, very ugly. And I was getting nowhere fast on it starting from sun-up.

But last night, as I was crashed out on the sofa with an Edy’s Fruit Bar and my latest issue of Cooking Light, I came across a recipe for a bean dip that just sang my song. I’m kind of in a snacking mood anyhow. We’ve had various houseguests for the past month, so I’ve been serving relatively formal dinners each night with defined entrees and side dishes, and it was time for a change around here. Plus, anytime I’m feeling a little down, Mexican food tends to be just what I need to perk back up. There’s just something about the heady spices, the earthiness of beans, the comfortable informality of the dishes, the ooey-gooey-melty cheeses. It was what I needed is all I’m saying.

I don’t have a very wide variety of dips in my repertoire. There is a cold bean dip that is adequate enough, I suppose, a fun and very delicious cilantro dip, my favorite salsa, and of course a few others, but I’m always open to new snackies. And this one, the recipe that tickled my fancy last night, was for a chipotle bean dip, and I love the flavor of chipotle. Love, love, love.

Chipotle peppers are nothing more than smoked jalapenos, but that smokiness adds a certain meatiness, a kind of oomph, to beans, and the adobo sauce that it is generally packed in is a tangy-spicy-vinegary thick syrup that makes your tongue sing. I buy small cans of chipotle in adobo sauce at the supermarket, but since a little goes a very long way, I freeze it in ice cube trays and then shake the cubes into freezer bags for use whenever. A cube is about a tablespoon size, which is perfect for most recipes, and I’ll chop one up to add to chili, black bean quesadillas, bean and rice burritos, even cheese dip.

So you can see why I was attracted to that recipe I saw in the magazine last night. And why I kept thinking about it all day today.

At four o’clock, as I stared aghast at my mostly untouched to-do list, I decided to scrap my original dinner plans and go for the dip. I needed that dip. I had picked up some queso fresco and cilantro at the grocery store earlier in the day, planning to make a batch later this week, but I didn’t want to wait. A cursory look about the pantry unearthed a can of pinto beans, which would have to do since I hadn’t soaked any of my dried black beans today, and with a couple of other much more minor substitutions, I was in business. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes, and I was able to throw together some simple cheese and jalapeno quesadillas on my grill pan while the dip was in the oven.

It was quick, it was delicious, and it was just what I needed. I feel much better now, maybe even good enough that I can get somewhere on that disastrous to-do list.


CHIPOTLE BEAN DIP (adapted from Cooking Light, serves 4 or so)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup crumbled queso fresco (a Mexican cheese found in most supermarkets)
  • 1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 chipotle chili, canned in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion to pan and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or so, until tender.
  3. Add cumin and garlic to pan, and cook 1 minute.
  4. Add oregano, beans and salt to pan; bring to a boil.
  5. Mash bean mixture with a potato masher; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened, stirring often.
  6. Spoon bean mixture into a small round casserole dish (2 qt size works fine) coated with cooking spray.
  7. Sprinkle cheeses on top of beans.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
  9. Combine tomatoes and chili in food processor and process until smooth.
  10. Spoon tomato mixture on top of bean dip.
  11. Sprinkle with cilantro.
  12. Serve warm.


yolie said...

This recipe is singing my song. If it tastes as good as it sounds I may not fit in to my bridesmaid dress in two weeks.

Sarah Beam said...

Yolie - this is relatively low-fat and low-calorie. And if you make your own tortilla chips, well, you get extra points for healthfulness.

Sandi said...

Sarah, My daughter fixed Mannicotti for us on Labor Day! I was very surprised at how good and filling it was without the Meat!!! She has posted the recipe on her blog and I have included a link.http://imlovingmotherhood.blogspot.com/2008/08/menu-plan-monday_31.html
I thought it might be something you might want to try. I think the Carnivore will like it too, as I am one myself!!

Sarah Beam said...

Thanks for the link, Sandi. Manicotti is one of my loves, so I will definately take a look.