You know we like our spreads and dips, especially classic Italian ones. Here is a simple recipe for pureed beans seasoned with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and fresh basil that can be made mostly out of cupboard ingredients. It is divine in flavour and texture, with a multitude of uses. It is difficult to get fresh ingredients during this CV-19 lockdown, I know. If you don’t have basil, use parsley, coriander or chives. I have even used rocket and baby spinach (use a little less). Or simply leave the basil out.
The optional tomatoes and fennel seeds is an idea from one of the Moosewood cookbooks of long ago – we adopted it and use that combination in all sorts of things now.
White Bean, Basil, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Turmeric Spread
2 cups cooked white beans (haricot, northern, or cannellini, etc) – reserve some of the liquid when cooking, or the liquid from the tins of beans
3 Tblspn extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
0.5 tspn turmeric
2 – 3 Tblspn fresh lemon juice
0.25 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
sea salt and a good pinch or two black pepper
6 semi sun dried tomatoes – if fully dried, soak in water for 15 mins before using
0.75 tspn fennel seeds
In a food processor or blender, blend the white beans with the olive oil, garlic, turmeric, salt, pepper, and lemon juice until the mixture is very smooth. Also the tomatoes and fennel seeds if using. You may need to add some of the reserved bean liquid to make a thick but smooth spread. Water can be used if you don’t have the reserved bean water.
Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice, garlic or seasoning, as required. Blend again if necessary.
Serve at room temperature or chilled. Use in pita bread, on crackers, or as a sandwich spread. Or spread on a plate as a base to other ingredients – roasted tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, green chilli paste, and/or crispy fried onions.