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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A "Non-Dinner-Party" Dinner Party in Several Parts: White Bean Dip

We had friends over for dinner on Sunday night. Just a casual dinner for friends while watching the Vikings lose to the Saints in an incredible game. It was the first time we have really had people over for dinner since acquiring our stock of cool-wedding-gift-kitchen items, and I was excited. Plus, with all the cooking I've been doing, it was fun to try out some new recipes--knowing I'd get the chance to share them all with you.

For those who know me well, you know that I used to joke about just wanting to get married because I wanted a Cuisinart food processor. We got one as a gift, and I swear I'm often shocked that I was able to cook "well" before it. I love it. It's the massive, 14 cup, chefy-style version, and I literally worship it. It's by far my favorite (and most used) kitchen gadget, squeaking by my old favorite, my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

I used the Cuisinart a LOT in this meal on Sunday night...again, how the heck did I ever cook without it?

Let's start with appetizers, shall we? I struggle with apps, unless it's acceptable for me to put out hummus or make my amazingly awesome guacamole. But this dinner was more casual, winter, comfort food, and I wanted to actually make some apps that would fit the bill.

I've been wanting to create a white bean dip (cue the Cuisinart) and figured that would work. See the recipe below--it was awesome. I served it with thinly sliced (really thinly sliced) baguette and a chili pepper jam I purchased. The white bean dip was so easy and I still have a good amount left to use on sandwiches and whatnot this week. Mmmm, mmmm, good.

I only had dried cannellini beans, so I quick soaked them. Follow the package directions, but basically you put 1/2 lb of the dried beans in a pot, cover with 4 cups of water, boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand about 2-2 1/2 hours. They should be tender--like if you opened a can.
Or, of course, you could just use a 15oz can of cannellini beans. Whichever you like. Just make sure you drain and rinse the canned beans.

Part of what I love about this recipe, besides the fact that it takes almost no time to make, is that it's extremely versatile. You could change up the spicing, add a ton of fresh herbs, or even toss in some roasted peppers. It's also super healthy--the only added fat it contains is the olive oil (a good fat, of course) and the beans are so high in protein and fiber. I fully intend to put this on anything I can this week! It would make a killer panini condiment...hmmmm.


White Bean Dip


2 tsp minced shallot (about 1 small shallot, or 1/2 a shallot that contains 2 in one skin)
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I actually grated it, makes a nice paste)
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves or ½ tsp dried (but use whatever you'd like!)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can  white kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 1/2 lb dried, soaked
zest and juice from 1 lemon
salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
chicken stock (or vegetable) to add if needed

Over medium heat, saute shallot, garlic and rosemary for 2-3 minutes. Let cool--about 2-3 minutes.

Place beans, shallot mixture, lemon juice, salt and pepper in food processor and blend till mostly smooth but with some texture. Taste. If it needs "thinning"slowly pour in stock while processor is on until you reach desired consistency. Mine was just the tiniest bit chunky, not quite as smooth as hummus.

Serve with thinly sliced baguette and any other condiment you choose--I definitely recommend trying a good quality jam. (Stonewall Kitchen makes some amazing ones!)

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