For those of you unfamiliar with the dish, Bob Armstrong Dip is an “off-the-menu” appetizer originally found at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin that found it’s way north to the family’s Dallas-area restaurants, Matt’s Rancho Martinez and Mattito’s. I use the term “off-the-menu” loosely as 60% of the time, everyone in the restaurant orders it every time. The components: queso, guacamole, sour cream, and ground beef. [It is worth note that I’m finding conflicting info on sour cream’s inclusion in the original recipe in addition to the fact that Mattito’s appears to not be in the original family any more. Oh well, who cares about history when your brain is set on feeding your mouth vegan B.A.D.? Ok, was that acronym awesomely placed? Methinks so.]
Decent vegan queso has been a mystery in my household. No more. I’ve adapted the recipe from this site (I realize you can no longer find the recipe on that site, but I bet if you use the wonders of Google, you will find that someone was nice enough to use a cached version and put the recipe in a popular vegan forum**). First adaptation: double the recipe - you’ll want more, trust me. Second, skip the mustard and add a handful of cheddar Daiya and a handful of mozzarella Daiya at the same time you’re adding your Earth Balance (or whatever vegan margarine you’re using). I would also suggest that you use a whisk AND a spoon in order to get the flour and nooch out of the corners of the pot when trying to get a thickened but smooth texture (add a tad more water if needed, you can always cook a bit longer to thicken it out). Also, be liberal with those “dashes” of chili powder and garlic powder.
You should now have a pretty amazing queso base. Is it good enough to just stop and eat? Sort of. The flavor and, more so, smell (very important) will be genuinely queso-esque. The texture isn’t quite there yet. The good news is that you’re about to fold a bunch of creamy ingredients into the mix to solve this problem. The whole here is certainly greater than the sum of the parts.
Guacamole. I’d almost always tell you to make homemade, fresh guacamole studded with chunks of delicious avocados. Almost always. I found this stuff, and, quite frankly, it’s the best “guacamole in a box” that I’ve ever had. The added bonus is that it’s much creamier than the fresh stuff. Plus, who wants to slave over a cutting board for 30 minutes to get the perfectly sized diced tomatoes and onions when your extra efforts will be indiscernible once mixed into a delicious conglomeration? “Not you” is the correct answer. [Please don’t call me a slacker, I make some mean fresh guac too. Trust me, this is for your own good].
Sour cream. I took a poll and Tofutti won out.
Ground beef. I tried Upton’s Naturals’ Ground Beef Style Seitan. I didn’t see it on their website, but they have it at the Whole Foods on Park (isn’t that technically at Greenville and Blackwell? Yes.). When preparing, I’d suggest using a bit of oil in a medium-hot pan and using a sturdy spatula to break it apart as you cook it. Five minutes or less - pretty easy. But, feel free to use your favorite vegan ground beef-style whatever.
Assembly. Pour yourself a big bowl of vegan queso. Add a big spoonful of guacamole, another of Tofutti sour cream, another of your ground beef-style seitan, and maybe some pico de gallo for garnish. Admire your work briefly:
Stir together completely. You now have the creamiest, queso-iest vegan dip in the world. Skeptical omnivores like my wife even like it (seriously). I wish I had pictures of the stirred version, but 4 of us literally ate that whole bowl (and a second one – don’t judge). I’d suggest serving with plenty of tortilla chips, tortillas, and a few (or more) beers or margaritas. Perfect for sunny afternoons on the patio, all Summer long.