I’m starting the new year off with beans!
After trying about 100 different openings for this post, that is the sentence I landed on. Clearly I was never one for a fashionable entrance. The reason I’m starting out the year with the lovely legumes is simple: beans are tasty, they’re generally thought to be good for you and simple to make. If you’re starting out the year searching for easy, healthy snacks that go along with your resolution, beans are your guys. In this instance, bean spread is your guy, but you get the idea.
I’ll encourage you to use dried beans that you’ve cooked yourself for this recipe. Not because I’m mean and like to make you work more, but because they’re way tastier and have a better texture than the canned variety. For those of you thinking about the hideous overnight soaking, well… then don’t soak them. I usually don’t. Not since I read that Rick Bayless doesn’t, and neither do Mexican cooks in general.
To cook beans, I usually give the dried beans a quick rinse and pick over, then toss them in a pot with some aromats (dried chilies, garlic, onion, thyme, bay) and cover them with an inch or so of water. Simmer away for 2 – 3 hours (depending on the volume you’re cooking, and the bean variety, and all sorts of things I couldn’t possibly know about your kitchen), adding some vegetable stock and salt around the halfway point (I don’t add salt up front, since it may keep the beans from getting tender).
The result is always a nice batch of tender and tasty little beans. I usually cook up several cups of beans at once, dividing them up between fridge, freezer and that night’s dinner… or in spread form, as in this recipe. Kept in an airtight container in the fridge, this spread keeps nicely for several days, making a great snack with homemade sesame crackers and veggies, or, say… slathered on a sandwich with spicy pickled banana peppers, shredded carrot salad (salt, pepper and olive oil… toss!) and greens. Yummmm… the new year looks tasty from here…
Mediterranean White Bean Spread
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes (not including cooking time on beans)
Total Time: 5 minutes
Gluten-free, all natural, vegetarian, vegan, easy, minimal mess
Special equipment: food processor or blender
2 cups cooked white beans*
2 teaspoons dried dill (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 scallions, white & green parts, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in the container of your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
*Notes on variations/substitutions
*White beans – If cooking dried white beans (preferred) start with ½ cup dry beans to get 2 cups cooked. This is also roughly equivalent to a single 15 oz can (2 cups) beans, drained & rinsed. Check out this from Michael Ruhlman for bean cooking tips and instructions.