Spicy black bean dip, a versatile south-of-the-border specialty, is delicious with tortilla chips but is even better when used as a time-saving ingredient in recipes. It delivers a bold and spirited surge of Tex-Mex flavor without adding a lot of extra spices, seasonings, and fat.
We like to use it in everything from casseroles to quesadillas, replacing refried beans with an equal amount of spicy black bean dip. Try it in Mexican lasagna or on a pizza topped with salsa and shredded cheese. It's also a healthy and nutritious way to thicken and season homemade chili or vegetable soup.
Several brands of black bean dip are available, each with a slightly different flavor profile. One of our favorites for cooking with is a fat-free version made by Guiltless Gourmet (www.guiltlessgourmet.com), which comes in spicy or mild. Top-rated Chicken-and-Black Bean Soup tastes as if it's simmered for hours, but is ready for the table in only 20 minutes. Serve with a skillet of hot cornbread.
Chicken-and-Black Bean Soup: Dice 1 small onion and 1/2 green bell pepper; sauté in 1 teaspoon hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Whisk in 4 cups chicken broth and 1 (16-ounce) jar spicy black bean dip until smooth. Bring to a boil, and stir in 2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, and 2 cups chopped cooked chicken. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top individual bowls of soup with low-fat sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, baked tortilla strips, diced tomatoes, and avocado slices. Makes about 2 quarts. Prep: 10 min., Cook: 10 min.
This article is from the April 2005 issue of Southern Living.