Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cooking from the Pantry, Part I: Heidi Swanson's White Bean Dip with Almonds and Rosemary

{This is a little back story...}
A few weeks ago I decided to take Otis and Theodore to the zoo. We identified all of the animals and learned about their critical habitat. And we talked to some of the zoo volunteers about the conservation efforts that are underway to protect the orangutan (this would be a good place to tell you that before law school I toyed with the idea of being a primatolgist). We ate soft serve ice cream too. Then Otis turned to me and said, "this was a great day, Mommy." I smiled and agreed. 
When we came back to the house (the one we've been renting for the past year), there was a very large, red "FOR SALE" sign on the plot. I gulped. D'oh! That was not what I wanted to see. An expletive-fest ensued.
A few days later our rental, along with the house next door, was sold to a developer. Lickety-split. In record time. I knew what was coming next...
The demolition is slated for next month and a luxury duplex will replace our cute little 1920's home in the Highlands. Well, it's not really ours, but I do feel attached. 
I'll spare you the details, but let's just say we are on the move (again). We need to box up our things and be out in 2 weeks. Thankfully, we found another place to rent for 6 months. (Relief! Joy!) And yes, I know what you're thinking, our family moves around a lot. Indeed we do.
Using the move as inspiration, I decided to do a little series called "Cooking from the Pantry." I'm going to select recipes that use ingredients I already have stocked in the cupboard. This is my best effort to use up some of the things that have been sitting around, collecting dust.
This white bean spread, from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day, is the first installation in my little series. I have a few cans of white beans, a big bag of sliced almonds, rosemary from our garden, garlic from the market and a few extra lemons. There is nothing I need to buy. Perfect.
I really like this spread and it's simple to make. The toasted almonds add a bit of crunch and there's some nice citrus flavor from the lemon and zest. You can serve the dip with pita chips or some sliced bread. Just be sure to add lemon and salt to taste. This is a nice recipe if you want a bean dip but aren't in the mood for hummus. 
Stay tuned. My next installation of "Cooking from the Pantry" will be Polenta with Green Chilies and Cheese! (Of course I hope to do a seasonal post on tomatoes as well. They are ripe, ripe, ripe!)
Have a great day. I'm off to start packing... 
White Bean Spread with Almonds and Rosemary (Courtesy of Heidi Swanson, Super Natural Every Day)
Makes about 2 cups

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (I used Cannellini)

3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed (I used about 1 teaspoon more)

1/4 to 3/4 cup hot water
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, rosemary and garlic. Over medium-low heat, slowly warm the mixture until the oil just barely starts to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Pour the oil through a strainer and discard the garlic and rosemary bits.
In a food processor, combine the beans, two-thirds of the almonds, a scant ½ teaspoon salt, the lemon juice, and two-thirds of the rosemary oil. Pulse a couple of times to bring the ingredients together. Add the water 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing all the while, until the mixture is the consistency of thick frosting. You might not need all the water; it really depends on how starchy your beans are and how thick you’d like the spread to be. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice or salt, if needed.
Scoop the spread into a serving dish and make a few indentations in the top. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and the remaining almonds and drizzle with the remaining rosemary oil. Serve with pita chips.

{To toast the almonds: Place the nuts in a single layer in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Toss them around every couple of minutes, until fragrant and toasty. Don't walk away; if you do, set a timer so you don't forget. You can burn a batch of nuts very quickly!}
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  1. I bought both of Heidi's books because of you!!! (are you on commission :). This dip was really nice--- I added more salt and lemon--- and everyone loved it. THanks for posting! Nice instagram pics too. It's so addictive.

    1. Hi Ursulla. Haha, no- I'm not on commission. I really like Heidi. Her recipes are creative and delicious. Our whole family is hooked. I hope she puts out another cookbook soon. Got any other cookbooks in heavy rotation? And yes, Instagram is very addictive. I have sworn off Tumblr and Google+ (for now). How much social media can one person do, right? (We do have to get outdoors every now and again ;) As always, thanks for your comments. Have a great week.

  2. that is such an unfortunate situation :( good luck with the move! this looks amazing! a must try!

    1. Thanks. A move that takes you across a city is much easier than a move that takes you across the country! This is a nice dip-- simple and yummy. Hope you enjoy it.

  3. I made this over the weekend! T'was a delicious way to start off our backyard BBQ. Then I dug into your archives and made the panzanella because we have 20 pounds of tomatoes in our garden. WOWZA! Thanks so much for these posts. They are great! Good luck with the move too. I'm sure you'll land on your feet! Your account of this personal time has resonated with all of us, even if we are not undergoing the same exact things. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks so much for saying that... I appreciate it! yes, I hope we land on our feet, get settled and have permanence and stability. It's time to get off the roller coaster (though we are having a very good time as of late :) Happy cooking.