Monday, July 14, 2008

Dipping into White Beans

I have always loved dips: guacamole, hummus, babaganoush, tzatziki, taramasolata, raita, olive tapenade, black bean, artichoke, roasted red pepper, spinach (my mother's). A veritable pageant of freshly melding colour and flavour.

I have taken many a dip from stumbling beginnings to pinnacles of perfection...if only to later use it wantonly in antipasto platters.

The one that has always eluded me, however, is the white bean. I kept trying to coax it out of its shell for years, with little success. I persisted because I could see its potential. But, despite Herculean efforts, things always turned out deathly dull with the same ineluctable end: awkward efforts to eat through as much of the bowl as possible after everything else has disappeared and the resigned scraping of the remains into the garbage after all the guests have left.

But something happened in Barcelona. Maybe I changed. Maybe he did. Maybe both. It doesn't really matter. What's important is that we finally, finally, finally connected. The white bean has landed, it has blossomed and it is living the prime of its beany life. Both of us are smitten.

Here is what I can tell you about the how:

1 cup of canned white beans (rinsed)
1-2 tablespoons of minced fresh dill (or basil)
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest
half a medium clove of garlic, finely grated or crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
a splash of cold water to loosen a little if necessary (no more than a tablespoon or so)
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 a teaspoon of the former and 1/4 of the latter)

Mash everything together with a potato masher or fork. (Don't mix in a food processor as it'll ruin the texture--you want it to be mashed to the point where it holds together, but with a few pieces of bean still discernible.)

The perfect summer tickle, particularly delicious paired with crisp steamed green beans or on olive oil slathered crostini.

1 comment:

Diana said...

Oh honey, I wish we'd spoken about this sooner - I love dem beans! Your dip recipe sounds excellent, and I also wanted to let you know I have served roasted pork rack on a bed of white bean puree - green beans/asparagus on the side - that has brought the house down. I believe the secret with delectable white beans lies in the lemon/garlic combo, as your own recipe suggests. But the sky's the limit - it is an excellent, very healthy alternative to potato mash.