If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Texans after inhabiting this vast country for the past 4.5 years, it’s that Texans LOVE their queso.
Yes, Mrs. Bilingual Education is getting sophisticated over here by pushing the Spanish on y’all today. Queso=cheese.
But to Texans, it isn’t just any sliced or cubed cheese variety; it’s the melty, gooey, warm bowl of golden magma that gets scooped up with tortilla chips that we’re talkin’ about.
As someone who has been dating a Texan for 9 years and married to a Texan for 4.5 years, I’ve had my share of queso dips. While they all have the common denominator of melted cheese, there’s such a vast variety that this dip can come in. From white queso dotted with green chilies and jalapeños to the golden variety with rotel to the meaty variety studded with ground beef and even some varieties sporting spinach (therefore healthier, right?), I’ve learned that just because the menu says queso doesn’t mean you can jump to conclusions about what you’re going to get.
Today, I’ve masterfully copied one of my husband’s most favorite queos in all the land- Chili’s Skillet Queso.
While the original version is the golden queso studded with seasoned ground beef, my version embraces those flavors minus the dairy. How on God’s green Earth can you have queso sans the queso?!
Read on to find out!
I must admit, when it comes to a good queso dip, I’m not completely unopposed. Paired with a strong and salty margarita (sigh, one day I’ll see you again), I’ll participate in a few chips with queso. Key word=a few.
However, if I overdo it on the corn chips and queso, usually I will be doubled over in gas pains and stomach cramps about an hour and a half after the meal. Therefore, I always stick with the whole “a few” rule when it coms to chips and queso. I've learned this lesson the hard way one too many times.
While I’ve remade Chili’s queso dip with traditional Velveeta, I can’t say I’d be eager to eat much more than a few bites of that stuff. Yeah, it’s delicious, but we all know eating a “processed cheese food” that can sit in an aluminum pouch on the shelf AFTER OPENING is not real food, therefore we shouldn’t be digesting it.
So, how can a Paleo Texan still have her some queso?
For reals, y’all, if you haven’t experimented with cashews as a substitute for cheese, you’re missing out. When soaked for a few hours, these little nuts will blend up into a creamy, velvety substitute for a variety of cheese-based recipes. I’ve even seen it used as a Paleo substitute for cream cheese in cheesecakes. While I haven’t gone that road yet, I’m sure it would work with the proper doctoring.
Where have you seen this sneaky trick before? I’ve shared this magical secret with y’all in my Paleo lasagna filling from this summer. I made believers out of many of y’all with that one, but if you haven’t jumped on the cashew cheese wagon, this may be the time to hop aboard.
In addition to the cashews, orange peppers get blended in to add a subtle sweetness and natural hue. Nutritional yeast is also sprinkled into the queso to give it a savory umami flavor. And, like Mister HHT prefers, ground beef still lends plenty of its richness and texture to the dip.
Served straight from the skill like at Chili’s or in a bowl, this queso dip will keep your non-Paleo friends pleased, too! Accompanied by a bag of blue corn chips, bell pepper slices, or celery sticks, you’ve got an appetizer worthy of the Lone Star State’s seal of approval. Now all that’s really needed is a salty margarita and we’re in business.
Healthy Happy Texan
I'm a Foodie, Fitness Instructor, and Follower of Christ. Add a passion for teaching others, dark chocolate, bacon, and dogs -- and that's me in a box.
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