The ultimate 7-layer dip embracing bold Southwestern flavours

By America’S Test Kitchen The Associated Press

To create the ultimate version of this appealing dip with bold Southwestern flavours and a simple, no-fuss technique, we distilled every layer down to its essential flavours and designed our recipe to emphasize those elements.
We replaced the usual refried beans with canned black beans that we processed with garlic, chili powder, and lime juice. To keep the sour cream layer from watering down our dip, we combined it with cheese to give it more structure.
We made the salsa and guacamole layers quick and simple to ensure that they would come together easily and stay fresh and vibrant. This recipe is usually served in a clear dish so you can see the layers.
For a crowd, double the recipe and serve in a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. If you don’t have time to make fresh guacamole as called for, simply mash three avocados with 3 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve with tortilla chips.
Servings: 8-10
Start to finish: 45 minutes
4 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped fine
2 jalapeno chilis, stemmed, seeded, and minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
6 scallions (2 minced; 4, green parts only, sliced thin)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lime juice (2 limes)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained but not rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 pound pepper Jack cheese, shredded (4 cups)
1 recipe (3 cups) Guacamole (recipe follows)
Toss tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, minced scallions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in bowl. Let stand until tomatoes begin to soften, about 30 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh strainer, discard liquid, and return to bowl.
Meanwhile, pulse black beans, garlic, remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice, chili powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in food processor until mixture resembles chunky paste, about 15 pulses. Spread bean mixture evenly over bottom of 8-inch square baking dish or 1-quart glass bowl.
Wipe out food processor, add sour cream and 2 1/2 cups pepper Jack, and pulse until smooth, about 15 pulses. Spread sour cream mixture evenly over bean layer. Top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 cups pepper Jack, followed by guacamole and, finally, drained tomato mixture. Sprinkle with sliced scallion greens before serving.
Guacamole:3 ripe avocados
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Halve 1 avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Add cilantro, jalapeno, onion, lime juice, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cumin and mash with potato masher (or fork) until mostly smooth.
Halve and pit remaining two avocados. Carefully make 1/2-inch crosshatch incisions in flesh with butter knife, cutting down to but not through skin. Insert spoon between skin and flesh, gently scoop out avocado cubes, and add to mashed mixture. Gently mash until mixture is well combined but still coarse. Season with salt to taste. Serve.