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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White Bean Spread with Roasted Peppers and Rosemary

I had an amazing cooking class on Tuesday night - full of fresh, simple and minimal "cooking" recipes and foods.  It was by far one of my more successful classes I've taught at The American Table - a full house, and the guest were interactive with each other and with me.  We laughed, ate well and socialized all evening long.  I think what worked so well for me was that I was very comfortable with the class - I was well-prepared and all of my food prep was done ahead of time.  I also thought through my recipes and the techniques so thoroughly that there was little left to chance.  Liz asked me where I got the ideas for the class, and I told I her I just made it all up!  Mostly true, though I did take from ideas and recipes I've ever made before, or tweaked ideas that I found in books and online.

The theme of the class was A Summer Meal - Garden Fresh Gazpacho; A Grilled Tuna Steak with Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic made into a sandwich on good crusty sandwich bread with a White Bean Spread.  For Dessert I made a Summer Berry Trifle.  All the recipes will be forthcoming!  The recipe I want to share in this post is the white bean spread - as it can be used in a variety of ways - on a sandwich; as a dip or spread; as a base for tuna salad; or as a "sauce" for hot pasta - thinned with a little pasta cooking water.  Here's the recipe, the ideas for other uses follows:

White Bean Spread with Roasted Red Peppers and Rosemary Ingredients:
  • 1 Can Cannellini  Beans (14-16 ounces) Drained & Rinsed
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - blanched or roasted
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary Leaves - removed from woody stem and minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper - about 1/2 Cup - diced
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
Directions:
  1. Drain & Rinse the beans. Add them to the work bowl of a food processor or blender, w/the blanched or roasted garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, roasted red pepper, and lemon zest & juice. 
  2. Purée the mixture, drizzling in the olive oil in a slow stream.  Stop the machine & scrape down the bowl as needed. Continue pureeing the mixture until it’s smooth.  If the mixture is too thick, thin it with a bit of cold water - about 2 tablespoons at a time. 
  3. Taste & season the mixture with lots of Freshly Ground Black Pepper and a generous pinch of salt.  Put the bean spread into a container, cover & refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Uses:  I used the spread in 2 ways for my class - as a spread over toasted/grilled bread.  I drizzled some good olive oil onto ciabatta baguette slices, cut 1/4 inch thick.  I grilled these on a grill pan to crisp them.  Then I spread about a tablespoon of the bean puree onto each baguette crouton.  Top with either a sprig of rosemary or Italian parsley.
  5. Instead of using mayonnaise, you can use the bean spread as your base for tuna, chicken or tofu salad.  I like to add finely shredded carrots and finely minced celery to the mixture to add in more vegetables and bulk up the fiber, while stretching the mixture to make a big batch.
  6. As a sandwich spread - as I did for my grilled tuna sandwiches.  I used the spread instead of mayonnaise or mustard.  It added a lot of flavor, and if you don't use a lot of oil in the puree, there's not a lot of extra fat.
  7. Use the puree as a pasta sauce. Cook pasta and then spoon some of the puree over hot cooked pasta.  Thin the puree with some of the pasta cooking water.  You'll have an instant pasta sauce - vegan to boot!

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