Five or Six or Seven Layer Dip for Superbowl.

Multi-layer bean dip clockwise  in order of its bottom-up construction, starting at the 12:00 on the picture above: refried beans, then sour cream, then salsa, guacamole, then cheese, then lettuce and black olives.

You know, don’t you, that Superbowl Sunday really is a national holiday? At least grocery stores think so, because they lay out a display of edibles and drinkables for the event just as they do for Fourth of July or Christmas. Beer, soda, bags of chips at a twofer price, chili kits, nacho cheese, and all that. In the meat section there are party wings and ribs.

Whether Superbowl or not, and for us not much this year, because our team was eliminated a couple weeks ago (even though I am happy for Ray Lewis of the Ravens who plays his career’s last game at the most important game of the year), a multi-layer bean dip is a tasty and pretty darn wholesome adjunct to the snack array.

Tina Molt, of Bristol, sent me her version, a hot one with beans, cream cheese, salsa and pizza cheese layered in a pie plate and baked at 350 degrees until bubbly. That works and sounds easy.

I looked up about Seven-Layer Dip which is a cold version with beans, sour cream, salsa, cheese, then vegetation of your choice. I chose guacamole, with lettuce and real black olives, though many recipes call for tomatoes.

Let’s parse this. Refried beans come conveniently canned and instantly spreadable. I make my own, the way I learned from my ex-husband Jamie, a master refrieds maker. A lot of onions cooked in vegetable oil until very soft, with a pile of pinto beans soaked and cooked until tender, all mashed together and seasoned up with chili, cumin, and garlic. I can make a ton of it in a huge skillet, then freeze it in pint containers for fast taco or nacho suppers.

Sour cream or softened cream cheese goes on top of the beans, and you can make it thicker or thinner, depending on your waistline or heart condition.

I do fresh salsa in summer only when I have fresh tomatoes. I have never met a January tomato that I really like. Or a February one, either. Mostly I acquire the salsa produced by my favorite movie star because I really like it, though there are a lot of other good ones, too, in jars or fresh. You can tweak the flavor of the whole dip by choosing a hot, medium or mild version of the salsa.

If I am making a hot bean dip, this is when I add the cheese and stick it in the oven.

If it is a cold dip, this is when I add the guacamole. Actually, one fascinating thing about Superbowl is that it is the day that more avocados are consumed in this country than any other day of the year, and the avocados go into the guacamole. I don’t fuss much: mash the avocados, sprinkle in some salt, pepper, cumin, and a squeeze of lime juice. Then I spread it on top of the salsa.

Then cheese, usually Monterey Jack, which gives us a chance to crank the capsicum heat because here in Maine a couple of cheese makers produce a pepper jack cheese with jalapenos. You can use cheddar. Then comes shredded lettuce, and the rest is your choice of chopped tomatoes, or black olives, or scallions. I used Kalamata olives because I cannot abide the other kind of black olives that are available canned, pitted, solid black, sometimes sliced. A genuine black olive has actual flavor and is dark purple. Maybe some chopped cilantro on top?

Yum! I like the dip on multi-grain chips.

The following is a set of loose instructions. I think the quantities are pretty much a matter of personal taste, with layers thicker or thinner depending on your preferences and how sturdy your chips are. A dense dip requires thick corn chips or the little scoopy ones. Lighter chips can accommodate a thinner or hot dip.

So – are you picking the Ravens or the Forty Niners, or do you care?

Multilayer Bean Dip
1-2 cups (or cans) of refried beans
Sour cream or softened cream cheese
Salsa
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Guacamole
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Black olives (optional)
Chopped scallions (optional)

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.