With March Madness upon us, people are throwing game-day parties and celebrating in bars (The Berghoff is hosting bar specials and $3 Berghoff Beer) left and right to root on their favorite college teams and hope their brackets come true! Sports parties have become synonymous with delicious appetizer spreads that are easy to lay out on kitchen and coffee tables and eat while simultaneously watching the game. One of the most convenient and tasty ways to do hors d’oeuvres is through dip. Just make a couple different dips, and lay out crackers, potato and tortilla chips, and some veggie platters and you will have some seriously satisfied guests for the duration of the game. Per Berghoff’s inclusive dietary policy, the dip I chose to feature on today’s Carlyn’s Corner is entirely gluten-free! While chips, crackers, and the like that generally accompany dip are customarily gluten-packed, almost all of these items have alternatives manufactured without wheat bases to accommodate gluten-free eaters. Just check your local grocery store’s gluten-free aisle for yummy options that Celiac and gluten-sensitive basketball fans can also enjoy!

The great thing about dip is its versatility and its universal appeal. Regardless of your diet type or age, there is bound to be at least one dip that you absolutely love. For this reason, having multiple dip options is great because it gives people lots of choices and ensures that all of your guests have at least one thing they really enjoy. So feature things like cheeses, onion dips, guacamole, amongst whatever else your heart desires; there are countless to choose from. I would also recommend including my delicious Seven Serendipitous Layer Dip. It combines multiple ingredients for a tasty, filling, and healthy flavor fusion.

Anyone can find dozens of recipes for this dip on the Internet, and, as a chef, I can tell you that most of them are flawed. The serving dish size is vague (“a big platter”) or wrong (“a 9-inch glass pie pan”). In reality, the serving dish needs to have sides, or the dip slowly collapses into what I like to call a dipslip. The seasoning is not balanced, and often recommends far too much taco seasoning (which results in a dish far more pungent than it should be). Another common ingredient, fresh tomato, is not only out of season, but duplicates the tomato salsa called for in most recipes.

My Seven Serendipitous Layer dip gets raves every year. There are some steps to the recipe that may seem persnickety; however, that little bit of extra time and effort results in a perfect dip that does not weep or become watery, tastes wonderful, looks great, is easy and sturdy to dip into, refrigerates well, and makes game day so much better.


  • 1 bunch green onions, cut 8-inches long, minced
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, cut in chiffonade
  • 1 ½ cup seedless cucumber, peel on, diced
  • ½  (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, preferably Mezzetta, drained, diced
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained, minced OR 1 (6 ounce) jar California ripe sliced olives, drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, well-softened
  • 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1 (1.4- or 1.5-ounce) package gluten-free taco seasoning, preferably Bearitos
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar mild, medium, or hot tomato salsa
  • 3 cups (1 12-ounce package) shredded Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or cheese of choice


  • Place green onions in a small bowl, cover with water, and sprinkle on ½ teaspoon of salt. Reserve.
  • Rinse chiffonade of lettuce in a salad spinner. Place in a large plastic self-sealing bag with a paper towel and refrigerate. Reserve.
  • Place cucumbers in a dish lined with a paper towel folded four times. Repeat with the red peppers.
  • Repeat with the olives. Reserve.
  • Drain the reserved minced onions and pat dry with paper towels.
  • In a medium bowl using a sturdy whisk or a hand-held mixer, beat sour cream and cream cheese together until smooth. Reserve.
  • In a medium bowl mix thoroughly the beans and taco seasoning.
  • Spray a 9 by 13 by 12-inch glass dish lightly with nonstick spray. Spread the beans over the bottom in an even layer. Next spread the sour cream-cream cheese mixture over the beans. Top with salsa.
  • Sprinkle the onions over evenly. Repeat with the red peppers. Repeat with the cucumbers.
  • Top with lettuce. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over. Garnish with sprinkled olives.
  • Serve with gluten-free corn chips, or refrigerate covered until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).


Variations include-

Substitute 2 (10-ounce) packages of roasted red pepper hummus for refried beans; omit taco seasoning.

For a dairy-free version, substitute the same amounts of Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese for cream cheese; Sour Supreme for sour cream; shredded nondairy cheese alternative for cheese.

Check out more of my gluten-free recipes here!