Purée de haricots blancs

Mediterranean-style white bean dip

This dip of puréed white beans, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice may be served as a starter, as part of a mezze spread, or at cocktail hour, with warm pita triangles, veggie sticks or toast alongside. It can be made with any dried white beans, or with pinto beans. I used white broad beans, but navy beans would work equally well.

The quantities below will serve four people.

1/2 pound (250 g) dried white beans
2 tsp. sea salt or table salt

1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. powdered cumin, plus extra for decoration
1 dried cayenne pepper (optional)

red onion, fresh cilantro and/or fresh dill for garnish

Place the beans in a large bowl.

Heat 1 quart (1 liter) of water to boiling. Pour over the beans. Let stand for one hour.

Transfer the beans and their water to a large pot. Add enough more water to cover the beans by about two inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil, remove any foam, turn down the heat and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until the beans are very tender. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure all the water does not evaporate.

Turn off the heat. Add the salt. Allow to cool.

Transfer the beans to a blender along with about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Blend. You are aiming for a creamy purée. If the purée is too thick, add more water and blend again.

Transfer to a bowl. Put the garlic through a press and add. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice and cumin. If using cayenne, crush the pepper and add. Stir well to blend. Allow to rest for at least half an hour.

Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with a little extra cumin. Add some thinly slice red onion and sprigs of fresh cilantro and dill for garnish.

Serve with warm pita triangles, toast triangles, carrot sticks, finocchio slices or other veggies of your choice. Serves 4.

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