Leftovers, Yum! – Seven Layer Dip
Some of the best inspiration can come from foraging in your own refrigerator or cupboards or freezer. Leftovers, fresh or pre-cooked, can, with a few tweaks, be the basis of the next day’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, as in this Seven Layer Dip concoction. For a variation on the Fork Tacos recipe posted previously, here’s a way to use up the remaining items, or, the dish could start out this way, depending upon your choice. Again, this is a dish that you could prepare with your child/ren, having them help count the layers as they are added to total the number 7.
It is also a good party dish as it can go a long way and, served in a glass baking dish, it adds lots of color to a spread. The key to this dish as well as the recipe given earlier is the flexibility that they provide, for family dinner, or even for entertaining. Both meals are relatively easy to prepare ahead so that you can enjoy your guests’ company without having to constantly be in the kitchen.
Serve this with scrambled eggs, and voilà! It is the centerpiece of a hearty Tex-Mex-themed brunch. If doing this variation, softened flour tortillas instead of chips are recommended as accompaniments. You can also create breakfast burritos from the same ingredients.
Layer 2 – Meat (if using), warmed up
Layer 3 – Cheese (should melt due to the to warm layers below)
Layer 4 – A mixture of peppers, scallions and lettuce
Layer 5 – Guacamole (see Recipe below)
Layer 6 – Pico de Gallo (see Recipe below)
Layer 7 – Sour cream garnished with black olives
It should be possible to see each of the layers clearly in the bowl when the dish is finished. Prepare the first 3 layers and cover with plastic wrap until closer to serving time. Add the rest of the layers up to the last layer and cover just as you are expecting the first guests to arrive.
Just prior to serving, add the last layer. This will keep the warm part warm, the vegetables crisp and crunchy, and the sour cream and Guacamole bright and fresh. To serve, take a large serving spoon and cut through the layers so that some of each flavor is put on the plate. Use tortilla chips as utensils to eat dip.
Pico de Gallo
1 box cherry or grape tomatoes, deseeded and chopped (or 1 lb. vine-ripened)
1/2 small Red Onion, minced
1 to 1/2 Lime (juice of)
1/2 tsp. of Salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. ground Coriander
1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
1 medium Jalapeño, minced and de-seeded
1-2 Tbsp chopped, fresh Cilantro* (fresh Coriander if outside the United States)
Tabasco® sauce (very optional)
Using a non-reactive (i.e., non-metal) bowl, mix together tomatoes, onion, lime juice, spices, and jalapeño. Add cilantro and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, stirring occasionally to blend flavors. Taste and adjust spices, lime juice, and cilantro to get the balance that suits your palate.
Although tempting, extra salt should not be added. It is very easy to over-salt this dish. Tasting the Pico with the aid of a tortilla chip will show why. The salt on the chip will add what is needed.
If you’d like some extra kick, add a few drops of Tabasco® sauce. Again, the spiciness will grow stronger as this dish sits. If making guacamole (see below), reserve some of the Pico and the juice that develops prior to adding the Tabasco®.
2-3 ripe Avocados
3-4 Tbsp Pico de Gallo, plus accumulated liquid/juice (see above recipe)
Chopped, fresh Cilantro
Lime juice, as needed
Skin, pit and mash the avocados in a large, non-reactive (i.e., non-metal) bowl. Fold in reserved Pico de Gallo, along with a couple of tsp. of its accumulated liquid/juice. The mixture should be smooth with some lumps. Adjust seasonings as needed, to suit your tastes, and add extra lime juice, if desired. If preferred, you can mash one avocado until creamy and cut the other one into small chunks for a mix of textures or make both creamy.
*Kitchen Witch Tip:
Along the way, others have shown me some of their cooking secrets. Here’s one I’d like to share with you. It isn’t just the leaves of the cilantro that have flavor. Finely chop the stems in addition to the leaves to add extra flavor to dishes that call for this herb. You’ll definitely notice the taste difference!