My New Favorite Lunch: White Bean Dip

Saturday evening we had some of my very favorite feminists and their guys over for a BBQ. The weather wasn’t very cooperative, as it was yet another cold, wet Chicago day, but when this group gathers, the food is always amazing. We love to eat, and we do it well. I really meant to take a picture of the spread, but after a ‘rita or two – all thoughts of picture taking was quickly forgotten.

I made a spicy quinoa salad, horchata ice cream, a pitcher of strawberry margaritas and Mark grilled up the always excellent Garlic Sausages from Romanian Kosher butcher. Lucy brought some very fresh ceviche that I really wish I had eaten more of. Melissa brought homeade mango habenero salsa, chips, and strawberry shortcake – and was kind enough to make some GF shortcakes just for me! Kris brought some veggie pasta salad and a massive taco salad. Becca, the now certified pastry chef (if you live in Austin – hire her!), brought some cucumber infused rum and kept the party flowing with mojitos. Corrine made sure that we weren’t completely unhealthy and plied us with fresh fruits. And Stevie brought her famed avocado cheesecake and some awesome white bean dip – think herby hummus with white beans instead of chick peas.

I LOVE hummus….for years, it’s been the staple that I’ve brought to every party. I make a mean hummus – flavored with fresh basil, or sundried tomato, roasted red pepper – it’s endlessly variable, and good with chips or veg. Tasting this new, garlicky variation on the theme – I knew I had to whip up a batch ASAP. I was also lucky enough to have some Rancho Gordo dried runner cannelini beans in the pantry, which are incredibly creamy. I cooked them up with some veg, garlic and rosemary to give them an extra boost of flavor. Once the beans are cooked, the rest is a snap. This dip is probably my new favorite lunch with a few tortilla chips and handful of veggies.

White Bean dip
Makes about 3 cups

Cooking the beans:
1/2 lb dried runner cannelini beans (love the ones from Rancho Gordo)
1 carrot, cut in a few large pieces
1/2 onion, peeled, whole
2 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
2 stalks celery, cut in half
2 bay leaves
2 springs rosemary
water
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Soak the beans for a few hours or overnight, covered by at least 3″ of water. When you’re ready to cook the beans, pour the beans and water into a pot, and add enough water for them to be covered by 3″ of water. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, rosemary, celery and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir, and reduce heat to low and simmer until nearly done, about an hour to an hour and a half. When they’re done, add the salt, remove from heat, and let them sit in the pot for 30 minutes, so they absorb some of the salt.

Dip:
1/4-1/2 cup bean cooking liquid
1/4 cup olive oil
3 sprigs rosemary
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup minced chives and their blossoms
salt & pepper
juice of one lemon
zest from lemon
1 T capers
2 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Set a small pan over low heat, and warm the olive oil, garlic and rosemary gently – do not let it boil. Heat the oil for 5-10 minutes, until the garlic begins to soften. Discard the rosemary sprigs and set aside the oil and garlic.
  2. To make the dip, toss the garlic and capers into the food processor and whiz until everything is minced. Scrape down the bowl, and then pour in the beans, lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, and 1/4 cup of the reserved bean cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Scrape down the bowl, then blitz again, and slowly pour in the olive oil and puree until the oil is incorporated. Taste, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour dip into a storage container and then stir in the minced chives. Serve with crackers, chips, pita, on toast or chopped veggies.

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