Create a fiesta in a bowl

Make the dip in the morning and at serving time, surround the bowl with tortilla chips or pita triangles. For a great main course, rub a lean flank steak (or several boneless skinless chicken breasts) with oregano, chili powder and cumin before grilling. Slice the cooked meat thinly and arrange on a large platter, along with zucchini and onion slices, chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander, lime wedges and an assortment of tortillas, so your guests can customize their own fajitas.

Easy-As-It-Comes Layered Mexican Dip

Although avocadoes are high in fat, it’s the friendly monounsaturated fat — the kind you find in olives, for example. Most avocadoes in the supermarket are not ripe, so buy them about three days ahead and ripen them at room temperature at home. To test an avocado for ripeness, press very gently; if it yields to pressure, it’s ripe.

1 can (14 oz/398 ml) black beans, drained and rinsed well
4 oz (125 g) light cream cheese, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup (50 ml) lime juice
1/4 tsp (1 ml) each ground coriander and cum
Dash hot sauce (optional)
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (125 ml) mild or spicy prepared salsa
2 large ripe avocadoes
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped fresh coriander
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped

In food processor, purée black beans, cream cheese, half the garlic, half the lime juice, ground coriander, cumin and hot sauce, if using. Spread into bottom of glass serving bowl. Stir 1 cup (250 ml) of the sour cream into the salsa; spread over black bean mixture.

In separate bowl, coarsely mash avocado with remaining garlic, lime juice, salt and half the fresh coriander. Spread on top of the salsa. Top with layer of tomatoes, then green onions. Dollop remaining sour cream around edge of bowl. Garnish with remaining fresh coriander. (Dip can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 8 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Makes 8 servings.

Per-serving nutritional information: calories: 240; protein: 10 g; fat: 15 g; saturated fat: 6 g; carbohydrate: 18 g; dietary fibre: 8 g; sodium: 425 mg.

TIP: Black beans are very high in iron, fibre and folic acid. They’re a great addition to salads, fresh tomato salsas, chilis and stews.

More spicy ideas:

Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Classic Guacamole
Mexican Lasagne
Rose’s Chicken Fajitas
Mexican Coffee

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