Friday, July 27, 2012

Healthy & delicious white bean spread

Back when we lived in Austin our favourite restaurant used to bring freshly baked bread and a delicious hummus-like spread made from cannellini beans to the table for us to enjoy while we waited for our meal to be prepared. It was always a welcome change from the bread and butter that you so often get at restaurants, not only because it's a healthier alternative, but also because they had different versions of this deliciously simple spread. For a while they served a roasted red pepper version, and later they switched to serving it with olive pieces mixed in, and a few olives on the side. Since moving to Toronto, we can't go to Sagra any more, so today I decided to try making this yummy spread at home. 

If you've made hummus before, you'll find that the process of making white bean spread is quite similar, although I find that the finished product is a bit lighter and smoother in texture. White beans are also a little less expensive than chick peas, and this recipe calls for less tahini (which can be almost as expensive as hummus itself) than most hummus recipes. For me, the biggest challenge was figuring out exactly which "white beans" were the right ones for this recipe, since several different varieties of beans at the grocery store seem to go by that name, and none of them said "cannellini beans" on the package. After a little online research I was able to determine that the beans I was looking for are also called white kidney beans. For my first attempt at the recipe, I decided to go with a can of beans instead of committing to a whole bag of dry beans (although this would be a less expensive way to go, if you plan to make the recipe more than once and have the patience and foresight to soak the beans overnight).

I started with a recipe from, which you can find here. I'll share the original recipe along with my adjustments, substitutions and things I will do differently next time below. The instructions are very simple; just combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

The recipe calls for:

  • 1/4c chopped green onions 
I used fresh chives from the garden, and put in 1/3c because I harvested too many and didn't want to waste them. I would use chives again, but next time I'll stick with just 1/4c.

  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
I used fresh oregano from the garden, but next time I would use dried instead, since the final version ended up tasting a bit leafy, even though it was well blended.

  • 1/4 ground cumin
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (19 oz.) can cannellini (aka white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
I drained the cannellini beans, and set aside the bean liquid, which I used about 3 T of to thin out the spread at the end, since it ended up a bit too thick. I didn't rinse them, but I probably will next time.
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
I used 2 cloves, and I'm glad I did (but then again, we like garlic!) I cut them in thirds before adding them to the food processor.

This spread is delicious on bread, but it's also great as a healthy veggie dip, and a fresh new alternative any time you would use hummus. It should last for a week or so in the fridge.


1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this spread at a restaurant recently! CAM