Monday, August 9, 2010

Recipe: Avocado Salsa, or "Megan's Dip"

Though it's simple to make, this is by far my most-requested dish. Because I can put most of it together ahead of time and then store it in the fridge, I end up serving it at nearly every party - at this point, I could probably make it in my sleep. It's great with fresh summer produce, easy to put together, and it's even been known to win over a few avocado detractors. In fact, by posting this on my blog, I feel like I'm about to give away some sort of long-held secret recipe (complete with a proprietary blend of thirty-seven herbs and spices!).

There are several well-known variations on this dish (usually called cowboy caviar or Texas caviar), but it's only ever referred to as "Megan's Dip" in my family. At mom's recent birthday party, my sister and I tried to rename it "Avocado Salsa" thinking it would be more descriptive and helpful for party guests, but it didn't take. Mom continued to refer to it Megan's Dip, so I finally gave up - the name has stuck.

This leads to frequent protestations (not to mention eye rolling) from my brother. It was actually Trevor who first introduced a variation of this dip to our family after one of his friends shared it with him. Every time I serve it, I'm reminded of this fact. "Poor Marisa," he'll say with a rueful shake of his head. "The only good thing she's ever made, and now everyone calls it 'Megan's Dip.'" What can I say? Sorry, Marisa. The recipe was too good to leave alone.

Whatever you prefer to call it, I've made this dip/salsa/relish many times - in my own kitchen, at friends' houses before parties, and most memorably, for my coworkers in a Seattle hotel room using ingredients from the Pike's Place market. It truly works with whatever you happen to have around - I've added different hot sauces, canned chiles, and even queso fresco depending on what I could manage to scrounge together. After all that experimentation, the mix of ingredients below is definitely my favorite combination.

Avocado Salsa, or "Megan's Dip"
2-3 jalapeños
1 can black beans
3 fresh ears of corn
1 can sliced black olives
1 can chopped black olives
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
Tabasco, Sriracha, or other hot sauce
2-3 limes
4 large, ripe avocados

Char jalapeños directly on burners, turning frequently, until skin is black. Place peppers in a plastic bag for 15-20 minutes, then peel skins. Dice jalapeños and discard seeds.

Rinse and drain black beans and olives, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Cut tomatoes to a small dice; drain in a colander to discard juice and seeds, then mix with the beans and olives.

Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil and add corn when ready. Cook on high for about 6-8 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool slightly, then cut kernels from ears and add them to the mixing bowl. Stir in minced garlic, diced jalapeños, and cilantro.

Season liberally with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Squeeze juice from one lime over mixture and taste, reseasoning if necessary.  Don't forget, you'll be adding avocados and more lime juice later, so it's OK to add a little extra spice at this point. Usually I'll add salt, pepper, and two kinds of hot sauce a few times before I'm happy with the flavor!

At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture overnight to let the flavors meld - in fact, it'll taste even better the second day. Just make sure to cover tightly while in the fridge.

When ready to serve, dice avocados. As long as your avocadoes are ripe, the easiest and quickest way I've found to remove the pit, then make crosswise cuts while holding it in your palm. (Take care not to cut all the way through the peel!) Scoop out the avocado with a large spoon, scraping close to the peel all the way around the edge.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime over the top.

Mix gently, taking care not to mash the avocado. Taste, adjust seasoning one more time if necessary, and serve alongside tortilla chips.

For dipping, sturdy chips will work best. You're unlikely to have leftovers, but if you do, cover tightly and refrigerate as soon as possible. If you have it on hand, squeeze in a little fresh lime juice  to keep the avocado from browning. Once covered and refrigerated, the salsa will keep for at least a couple of days.



  1. It may keep for a couple of days, but it won't last. Believe me... It. Will. Not. Last.

  2. My very favorite dip!! My friends all call it Megan's dip as well. (Sorry Marissa!) I ate half of the bowl at my party!

  3. Thanks for sharing! Might give it a whirl at the annual Labor Day farmer bash.

  4. can i have your handwriting?? PLEASE?? :)