In my imaginary life, I live in San Fransisco. I have tablecloths — in fact, not only tablecloths, but also time and motivation to wash them. In my imaginary life, you would think the word ‘graceful’ when you see me, even if I have bits of cookie falling out of my mouth. I’d be invited to dinner parties every week, and I would show up with the most perfect rhubarb tart you’d ever seen.
Real life goes a little more like this: I will resist washing the dishes until I have literally run out of forks, and then I’ll wait until the spoons are done too. My clothes live on every imaginable surface of my apartment. And if you invite me over to dinner, I am probably going to bring this rosemary and white bean spread, with crackers that I am purchasing from the store.
Look, as far as meal items go, spreads aren’t really winning any beauty contests, and it’s damn near impossible to make a bean spread seem glamorous, so you’re going to have to trust me on this one. As far as ‘things to nibble while we all drink ourselves silly before dinner’ go, this is a winner. The rosemary in the oil infuses the entire spread with this fragrant earthiness, and the toasted almonds add a wonderful depth to the flavour and texture. Like all recipes from Heidi Swanson, the simplicity of the dish belies its elegance, and if you’re using canned beans, it comes together in less time than it would take you to go buy dip from the store.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some dishes to wash.
Rosemary and white bean spread with toasted almonds
From Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. Yields about 2 cups.
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups (12oz/340g) cooked white beans, or 1 (15oz/425g) can, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup (70g) sliced/slivered/chopped almonds, toasted
- sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
- 1/4 to 3/4 cup (60-180ml) hot water
- grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1. 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, one to two minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Pour the oil through a strainer and discard the garlic and rosemary bits.
2. In a food processor, combine the beans, two-thirds of the almonds, 1/2 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 (60ml) 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 want your spread to be. Taste the mixture and add more salt and/or lemon juice to taste.
3. Scoop the beans into a small 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 at room temperature with bread, crackers, crudites, etc.