Black bean dip - improved, smoky and warm
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Warm Chipotle Black Bean Dip. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post.

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The average black bean dip is a reliably good snack option. Full of plant protein and savory spices, it is healthfully satisfying but rarely memorable. This, however, is not your average black bean dip.

While this recipe still qualifies as healthful, it is full of flavor and appeal. A key difference is that this dip is served warm, which immediately puts it in the comfort-food zone, and it is rustically presented in the skillet with an eye-catching cover of melted Monterey Jack cheese.

The flavor is ratcheted up with the smoky spice of a chipotle chile in adobo, as well as earthy cumin and coriander. (A little chipotle goes a long way, so I recommend dividing up what's left in the can into small, sealable plastic bags and freezing for future use.) Half the beans are pureed with sauteed onion and garlic, the chile and spices and a bright punch of lime juice until smooth, then that creamy base is returned to the skillet with whole beans and cilantro for added texture and flecks of color.

Served with contrastingly cool, crunchy vegetables and/or tortilla chips. It's like a magnet as an appetizer at a party, but it also makes for a playful and nutritious meal in larger portions. Either way, it's a dish you'll be thinking dreamily about way after the last bite has been scooped up.

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