White Bean Purée With Garlic and Rosemary

August 20, 2009


Appetizers, Basics, Fall, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes, Summer, Winter

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There’s something about carrots in the summertime that brings out the bean lover in me. So while I’m on the subject of my favorite legume dishes, let me recall a classic for any season: Cannellini bean dip with garlic, rosemary and a hint of lemon. White beans—bum bum bumbumbum, you make my heart sing. You make everything, groovy.

I found myself once again headed home with a bunch of beautiful, twisted, dirty, orange carrots, wondering what I could do to give them the platform they deserved. With so much visual character, they deserved to be featured on their own, instead of being chopped and softened into something else. Once again, it boiled down to beans. This purée can be quick or involved: it’s delicious from a couple of cans, or with a long soak of dried Cannellinis. Either way, you’ll add a few aromatics, do some blending, and find yourself with a supremely satisfying snack.


I will also say this: although I’ve grown out of ascribing myself with titles and am wary of announcing any dietary restrictions, I do eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. I’ll have a piece of meat from time to time, as long as I have a pretty good idea of where it came from and how it lived. Soaking some beans (or even opening a can—the best come from Eden Organics) requires a lot less research, however. And, in my opinion, a bowl of beans is as satisfying as any burger. Really. You think I’m crazy, but when is the last time you ate a whole bowl of home-made beans?

More likely than not, the idea of a bowl of beans recalls a little ditty not sung to the tune of “Wild Thing.” Bart Simpson loves to sing it, and so do most finicky child eaters I know. In fact, I’ve heard nervous adult eaters repeat it, too. It makes me temporarily sad for the beans until I remember that it’s all based on ignorance. Poor, deprived folk who don’t understand that such a simple dilemma can be easily resolved.


Yes, beans are magical—musical even, depending on your rendition—but they do not have to produce after-effects that would drive away a blind date or a bed mate. Yes you CAN serve beans to your significant other and not worry about being fumigated (or worse fumigating) from under the covers. Just make sure to rinse the beans thoroughly. As thoroughly as possible. Whether you’ve soaked them for hours or just emptied a can, it is possible to change their gastronomical effects by washing off the oligosaccharides responsible for the infamous toot. Anyhow, I dare you to ignore the medical validity of such a big word for bean sugar.

Enough about that. Back to these white beans, so soft and savory; so perfectly flecked with garlic and rosemary, themselves such excellent accompaniments to the carrot. In winter I love roasted carrots with olive oil, salt and rosemary sprigs, though after trying the combination of carrots and white bean dip, I may never again serve the roasted roots alone. This purée is great on salads as well—I plopped a bit onto some balsamic roasted tomatoes with Arugula and pine nuts and was, once again, deeply satisfied…with not even a hint of tummy-rumbling.

White Bean Purée With Rosemary and Garlic

serves 8

(This is the quick version, although you can also use an equivalent amount of soaked beans)

2 15 oz cans Cannellini beans (reserve 1/2 c liquid)

2 large garlic cloves, diced

2-3 rosemary sprigs, stripped and diced plus 1 tsp for garnish

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 c olive oil, plus extra for garish

S & P


Purée beans in a food processor or blender, adding lemon juice and olive oil.

Add garlic, salt and pepper and taste.

If dip is too thick, add some reserved bean juice.

Stir in rosemary and garnish with 1 tsp rosemary and olive oil.

Serve with your favorite summer vegetable, crackers or pita chips

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