When you show up to a party with a dip, people usually cheer. Or, they’re at least excited that you brought something. When you show up to a party with a dip and explain that it’s vegan, people are not so stoked.
“Oh. You didn’t have to bring anything….”
And then it sits on the food table for the rest of the night and everyone gives you that awkward, guilty smile when you’re carrying home ⅞ of a party dip, after you were the only person who ate some.
But, maybe I could trick them. Bring a vegan dish to a party and just not say anything, leave it inconspicuously on the table and let everyone assume that it’s “normal”.
This delicious, vegan Mexican dip is so similar in flavor and texture to a dip with real cheese and ground beef that if you dropped it anonymously at a party, I don’t think anyone who isn’t vegan would notice – or at least mind – the difference! The tempeh is so soft and meaty, layered between salty, fatty refried beans and sharp Daiya cheese. When it’s all packed into one bite on a corn chip, you’d never guess that it was some hippie-dippy vegan dip.
To make this easy and delicious dip, I start by crumbling 2 packs of tempeh with my hands into a large bowl. I break the tempeh down so that the individual soybeans are almost all separated, like the texture of ground beef. I pour some oil into a frying pan and add the tempeh when it’s hot, along the bottoms of some green onions. When the onions have become translucent and the tempeh is a golden-brown color, I pour in some veggie stock and spices and let the tempeh soak it up. This is what helps the tempeh become so soft and flavorful.
While the tempeh is cooking, I open a can of vegetarian refried beans and pour it into a pot. I add some veggie stock and spices to the beans, but not a lot. The beans should be smooth and flavorful, but not liquidy and overwhelming with flavor. I stir the beans every other minute to make sure that nothing is burning at the bottom of the pot, until they’re hot and steamy.
Once the beans and tempeh are ready, I grab my square baking dish and start layering. I spread the refried beans across the bottom of the dish and put the tempeh on top of that, making sure that everything is even. Then, I top the dish with some Daiya cheese, green onions, and cilantro, and broiled it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
At first glance, would you really guess that this dip was vegan? It looks cheesy, rich, and delicious, just like any other!
Wouldn’t you think that the tempeh was ground beef at first, without further inspection? After steaming in the veggie stock and spices, the tempeh soaked up all of the flavor and moisture and became so soft that the texture was hardly any different than meat! And it tasted amazing on top of the spiced refried beans. Having the fresh green onions and cilantro with creamy cheese on top helped break up the flavors so that the dish never got boring. I loved digging a corn chip into the dip and getting a scoop of each element in one bite, so salty and delicious all together.
I’m not actually going to bet you, because I still need all of my money, but I would bet you that you could get some of your friends and family excited about tempeh after bringing this dip to your next get-together. Fool them, if need be.
Recipe for Mexican Tempeh Dip
For Vegan/Vegetarian Refried Beans:
1 16 oz. can vegan/vegetarian refried beans
1/4 c. vegan/veggie broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 drops lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepot, and mix thoroughly – I’ve found that it’s easiest to smush the beans around to incorporate the broth enough to where I can stir it. Heat on medium-low for 5-10 minutes, or until hot and steaming.
For Mexican Tempeh:
2 packages tempeh, crumbled into small beans
1 c. vegan/veggie broth
4 green onions, thinly sliced, only using the white bottoms
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tblsp. olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the tempeh and green onions when it’s hot. Fry the tempeh until all soybeans are a golden color and the onions are soft. Add the broth, lime juice and spices and bring to a light simmer. Stir occasionally and remove from heat once all broth has been cooked into the tempeh.
For Dip Assembly:
1 batch Vegan Refried Beans
1 batch Mexican Tempeh
3/4-1 c. Daiya cheese blend
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
4 green onions, sliced, only using green top half
1 square baking dish
When the beans and tempeh are hot, pour the refried beans into the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the beans around the dish evenly. Then, place the tempeh evenly over the beans. Top the entire dish with the Daiya cheese, green onions and cilantro. Broil in the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese appears melted. Attack with corn chips.