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Friday, August 15, 2008

White Bean Dip

This is the Mediterranean's answer to Mexico's Black Bean dip!
2 cups dried white beans (or 15 ounce canned beans)
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus the zest of the lemon
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1 few sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry
Freshly ground black pepper
Sort and rinse the beans and cook them using the quick soak method:
Quick Soak Method:
use twice the amount of cooking water specified in the recipe below (12 cups water per 2 pounds beans or about 2 inches above bean level). Combine the water and rinsed beans in the pot and bring to a boil. Some cooks like to bring the water to a boil first, then drop in the beans a few at a time so the boiling doesn’t stop. Either method will cook the beans satisfactorily. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. The beans rehydrate while cooking so you will have to watch them carefully and add more water whenever necessary to keep them covered.
Cooking time for unsoaked beans can vary up to 2 hours. Most beans will be tender in 2 to 3 hours.
Cooking The Soaked Beans:
Place the drained beans into a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with 6 cups fresh water for each pound (2 cups) of beans, or to about one inch above the beans.
Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil (to prevent boiling over) and a bay leaf but no salt!
Boil gently with lid tilted until tender when taste tasted, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep beans just covered with liquid. The best rule is to test frequently during cooking, then come to your own decision when beans are tender and taste "done".
Making the dip: Add the beans, garlic, lemon zest &  juice, and olive oil  in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. -OR- Mix in a blender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl and drizzle more oil and the chopped herbs on top. Serve with pita wedges, veggy slices, or crispy bread slices.

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