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This dip combines the cool crunch of lettuce with a creamy, spicy cheese layer. It's perfect for scooping with homemade toasted pita chips.
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (Neufchatel or regular), room temperature
1 8-ounce container sour cream (lowfat, nonfat, or regular)
1 cup prepared salsa, hot, medium, or mild (half of a 16 ounce jar is fine)
1 tablespoon dried cilantro flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel® or 2 tablespoons Signature Secrets® Culinary Thickener, optional; for thicker, more "scoopable" texture
3 cups shredded lettuce (about 8 ounces, lightly packed)
1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and dried OR 1 3/4 cups cooked beans, cooled and well drained
1 cup salsa (the other half of the 16-ounce jar is fine)
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup diced green peppers or jalapeno peppers (seeded and membrane removed)
Fresh cilantro (optional for garnish)
Beat the soft cream cheese with the sour cream until well blended, then stir in the salsa. Whisk the seasonings and thickener together, add them to the cream cheese mixture and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Spread the shredded lettuce in the bottom of a 1 1/2- to 2-quart dish. Sprinkle with the black beans and top with the cream cheese mixture. Add the salsa, then the grated cheese, and garnish with the diced peppers and fresh cilantro. Serve with chips or dip bread.
Yield: 12 servings.
Nutrition per serving (about 1/2 cup, made with Neufchatel and lowfat sour cream, 153g): 200 cal, 13g fat, 10g protein, 12g total carbohydrate, 4g sugar, 4g dietary fiber, 40mg cholesterol, 560mg sodium.