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.