Take Time for Tacos

So my kind-of-step-brother Steve has this chili dip that he always makes for every family occasion. He doesn't cook anything otherwise,...

So my kind-of-step-brother Steve has this chili dip that he always makes for every family occasion. He doesn't cook anything otherwise, but when there's an occasion for him to make this dip, like during a playoffs Celtics game, New Years Eve, or just when all 12 or something of us bros and sisses find ourselves gathered together again for a movie or a beer at the house. (That just made me miss home a lot!) Anyways, he gets so excited to make this chili dip, and passes it around to everyone all wide-eyed and wants everyone to like it. When he gets to me, he always goes, "Oh yeah! I forgot you can't eat... anything in this dip!" I only find it adorable how excited he gets when he cooks up his special dip for everyone. So, thinking of Steve, I made a taco-inspired dip with all the fix-ins. And damn, does she light up a lens.

Now I know not everyone gets amped about making 7 layers for just a dip. It's not like my mom is going to see this and go whip this up on a school night. This can be reserved for special occasions, with special friends. Or if you're like me, you could do a couple steps tonight and a couple steps tomorrow and have this on your table right quick. The choice is yours.

Negative space; a positive thing

I don't know why, but I think of tacos as the ultimate family food. Don't you? Also, on a side note, I was thinking about that episode of LOST where Kate tells her husband she's a fugitive and yells through tears, "I Don't do Taco Night!!" Then I somehow caught that exact episode on TV last night, then produced a taco dip. This series of events led me to tacos, my ultimate purpose or calling in life. See? Life is sequential and purposeful.

7 layer taco dip: 

layer 1- lentil taco meat
1 cup green lentils
3 cups water
1 package taco seasoning or 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 package taco sauce or 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon bbq sauce, 2 tablespoons veggie broth, 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning mixture
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil

layer 2- queshew sauce
3/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
1/3 cup nooch
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon vegetable broth powder
1 poblano chile, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped,
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped.
2 teaspoons olive oil

layer 3 - guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1-2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, optional
2 teaspoons diced tomato, optional

layer 4 - slaw
1 bag pre-shredded slaw of your choosing
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

layer 5 - tomato onion salsa
(you can also use jarred salsa)
4 tomatoes, diced fine
1 red onion, diced fine
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon

layer 6 - chipotle crema
3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
2 canned chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/4 cup cilantro
juice of 1/2 a lime

layer 7 - hot sauce blend
1/3 cup sriracha
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons bbq sauce

1. Make lentil meat by combining lentils and water in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain and set aside. Sautee onion in a hot pan with olive oil. After 5 minutes, add the garlic. After 2 minutes add lentils and stir to combine. Add taco seasonings and sauce and stir to cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and transfer mixture to a food processor and blend or pulse for a minute until a ground meat-like texture is achieved.
2. Make queshew. In a skillet, heat olive oil on high. Add poblano, ren onion, and red bell pepper until soft and light brown. Set aside.
Combine cashews, yogurt, nooch, water, turmeric, chili powder, veggie broth powder, salt and pepper in the blender and blend until a thick sauce is achieved, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over the sauteed veggies, and stir.
3. Preheat oven to 375ºF while you get on dish duty. You're going to need the blender once more. Now find a clear glass baking dish(a clear one, so that you'll be able to see all the layers!). Put the lentil meat on the bottom, spreading from corner to corner. Next top with queshew, spreading over the top of the lentils, being careful not to mix the two. Now bake for about 10 minutes. Remove after baking set aside while you make the remaining layers.
4. Now make the guac! Easy, just mash everything together in a bowl with a fork and spread over the queshew.
5. In a measuring cup, whisk together the agave, vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Put slaw in a bowl and pour dressing over the top. Toss to combine.
6. In a bowl, stir together the chopped tomatoes and onion with lemon juice and cilantro.
6.To make chipotle crema, blend all ingredients in a blender for 2-3 minutes until smooth. I like to put it in a squeeze bottle so I can do zigzags for my 6th layer.
7. Mix all sauces together and add some salt and pepper. I also like to put this in a squirt bottle for zigzagging purposes. Plus these are great condiments to have on hand, because everything needs a little crema and hot sauce, right?
8.Drain some excess liquid from the slaw before sprinkling it over the guac to reduce pooling when the dip is served. Cover guac as best you can with the slaw mixture. Now do the same with the tomato salsa, seeing if you can drain off a little liquid from that too. Spread that over the top. If your dish is full after adding this layer, don't worry. the next 2 layers are just drizzles.
9. Going in a zigzig motion, squeeze over the tomatoes the chipotle crema. Now in an oposite zigzag motion, squeeze over the hot sauce blend. If you don't have any squeeze bottles, get some. But also you can dollop the crema on the tomatoes or drizzle the hot sauce best you can with a spoon.

*this dip comes together easiest when you have a few of the components ready before assembling. The lentil taco meat and queshew are easy to make ahead for taco night or any mexican inspired meal. Use the leftovers for this dip! The crema and hot sauce can be made way ahead too. If you are making the tomato onion salsa and not using jarred, wait to make that the day of, as well as the slaw as to not let those layers get too soggy. The guac won't keep in the fridge, so make that the day of, and you can have this put together in 30 minutes or less. 

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