You can’t live in Austin without developing a taste for queso. I do believe that at a certain point in your residency, if you don’t profess your undying love for the gooey cheese dip, the authorities will come and escort you out. Queso is a Tex-Mex staple that’s as abundant as the bats under Congress Bridge. It’s the glue holding together every menu, sometimes literally, as a stand-alone appetizer, side dish, and topping. Given the opportunity, I have no doubt that it would be blended into frosty margaritas, too.
All you need is liquid cheese with a bit of spice to have a passable queso dip. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, consider stepping up your game with Queso Compuesto.
Compuesto translates as “compound,” which means “made up or consisting of two or more existing parts or elements.” As such, queso is still the main attraction, but now you have a dollop of guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream in the same dish. Go all the way and hide a layer of cooked taco meat at the bottom, and you can basically call that a balanced meal.
How do you serve Queso Compuesto?
- Queso is always a stellar party starter, served as an appetizer with thick, crunchy tortilla chips.
- Pro tip: Warm the chips first to make them seem freshly fried and extra crispy. Just spread them out on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 – 6 minutes, until warm to the touch. Transfer the chips to a bowl so no one burns themselves on the hot pan.
- Ladle or spread queso over tacos, inside burritos before wrapping, or use as instant quesadilla filling.
What are some tasty variations on Queso Compuesto?
- Mix and match your favorite components to make this queso your own. Don’t like sour cream but love extra avocado on everything? Double up the guac and ditch the crema.
- When you’re in a rush, there’s no shame in taking shortcuts. Use prepared guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Heck, you can even use ready-made vegan queso, if you just want to use this idea as a template to color by numbers.
- Instead of meatless taco-seasoned grounds, stick with more whole foods like black beans or refried pinto beans for protein.
- Switch out the pico de gallo for any other salsa, hot or mild, red or green, smooth or chunky.
What can you do with leftover Queso Compuesto?
This is definitely a party-sized serving, so if you want to have a fiesta for one or two, don’t worry about the extra going to waste. It’s an incredibly versatile addition to…
- Pasta bakes
- Baked potatoes
Alternately, you could always divide the components into single servings. This is a great approach for portion control, planned leftovers, and simply preventing anyone from hogging the dish!
Some people still refer to this as “Bob Armstrong Dip,” attributing the creation to the former Texas land commissioner who allegedly asked for something different, off the menu, at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin, Texas. I think you can confidently name this one after yourself for improving upon the concept by making it far healthier, vegan, gluten-free, and even more flavorful.
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Seeded and Diced
- 1 Jalapeño, Fresh or Pickled, Seeded and Diced
- 1/2 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Cup TVP, TSP, or TPP*
- 1 1/2 - 2 Cups Mushroom or Vegetable Stock
- 2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Ripe Avocado
- 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
- 1 Teaspoon Chopped Cilantro
- 1/4 - 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Peeled and Diced Yukon Gold Potatoes
- 1/2 Cup Peeled and Diced Carrots
- 1/4 Cup Tahini
- 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 - 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (Optional)
- 1/4 Cup Avocado Oil, Rice Bran Oil, or Any Other Neutral Vegetable Oil
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Stock
Garnishes (To Taste):
- Vegan Sour Cream
- Pico de Gallo or Salsa
- Fresh Cilantro
- Hot Sauce
- To make the taco meat, set a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once shimmering, add the bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent; about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until aromatic.
- Add the textured protein of your choice to the skillet along with 1 1/2 cups of stock. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, pepper, and salt. Stir vigorously until everything is well combined. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, until the protein is rehydrated and lightly browned. Add more stock as needed if it begins looking too dry.
- Meanwhile, to make the guacamole, simply mash together the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Continue until as chunky or smooth as desired and adjust seasonings to taste. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- To make the queso, place the potatoes and carrots in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender; 8 - 12 minutes.
- Thoroughly drain and transfer to a high-speed blender along with the tahini, nutritional yeast, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne (if using). Begin to blend on low speed, slowly drizzling in the olive oil and stock as the motor runs. Continue blend until completely smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides of the canister as needed.
- When you're ready to serve, make sure the taco meat is spread out in an even layer on the bottom of the skillet. Pour the queso on top, smoothing it over to cover the meat. Top with generous dollops of guacamole, pico or salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and hot sauce, as desired. Serve warm, with plenty of tortilla chips!
*Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP,) Textured Soy Protein (TSP,) or Textured Pea Protein (TPP) can all be used interchangeably in this recipe, based on what you have access to and prefer for dietary purposes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 726mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 11gSugar: 8gProtein: 17g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.