Why It Works
- Steeping raw garlic in lemon juice prevents harsher garlic flavors from forming, and lends the dip subtle allium aroma instead of a pungent bite.
- Processing cooked white beans with a small amount of bean cooking liquid produces a super-smooth dip without diluting the flavor of the beans.
- A simple, punchy, puttanesca-inspired roasted cherry tomato topping acts a bright counterpart to the earthy richness of the bean dip.
Even if we aren't hosting in-person dinner or cocktail parties these days, we can still make tasty, pantry-friendly dips and appetizers for snacking on during quarantine. If you're self-isolating with a lot of dried legumes in your pantry, then this super-smooth white bean dip is another great way to put a pot of beans to good use.
For this dip, we keep things simple by buzzing up cooked white beans with a little bit of their cooking liquid, garlic, and lemon juice, before streaming in a healthy amount of extra-virgin olive oil to form a smooth purée. To temper the harsh bite of raw garlic, we steep a grated clove in lemon juice before processing it with the beans. As we found with our tahini sauce with garlic and lemon, combining lemon juice with processed raw garlic prevents harsher garlic flavors from forming, allowing the garlic to lend a more subtle aroma to the dip rather than a pungent bite that would overwhelm the flavor of the beans.
The dip is paired with a bright and assertive puttanesca-inspired roasted cherry tomato salad that plays off the earthy richness of the beans. Cherry tomatoes are roasted with a little olive oil until their skins just begin to wrinkle and split, and then are tossed with briny black olives, anchovy, fresh parsley, and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. The juices and drippings from the roasted tomatoes form a sweet and tangy dressing without the need for additional oil or vinegar.
Both the bean dip and the roasted tomato salad will keep for a few days in the fridge, so you can dole it out at your leisure as a healthy snack, light desk lunch, or Zoom happy hour appetizer. And hopefully some day soon we'll be able to go back to being stressed out about hosting cocktail parties again, and we can make this recipe in between trips to the bodega to pick up more ice and chips.
- For the Tomato Salad:
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint; 450g)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 ounce flat-leaf parsley leaves (1 loosely packed cup; 15g), roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup (50g) pitted black olives, such as Niçoise, Taggiasca, or Kalamata
- 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet (5g), minced (optional)
- Pinch red pepper flakes, gochugaru (Korean chili powder), or Aleppo pepper
- For the White Bean Dip:
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20ml) fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1 medium garlic clove (5g)
- 2 cups (425g) cooked dry white beans, drained, or one (15-ounce; 425g) can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed (see note)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) bean cooking liquid, from a pot of beans cooked from dry, plus more as needed (see note if using canned beans)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- For Serving: 1 loaf rustic sourdough bread, thickly sliced, drizzled with olive oil, and broiled until heavily toasted or warmed pita bread
For the Tomato Salad: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). In a 10-inch stainless steel skillet or on a small rimmed eighth- or quarter-sheet pan, combine tomatoes with olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and shake pan to evenly coat tomatoes with oil. Transfer to oven and roast until tomato skins just begin to shrivel and split, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
Transfer tomatoes and all of the juices that accumulated in the baking sheet (or skillet) to a medium bowl with parsley, olives, anchovy, and red pepper flakes. Using a spoon, gently stir to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside (salad can be covered and left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours, or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days).
For the White Bean Dip: While the tomatoes are roasting, place lemon juice in a small bowl. Using a Microplane, finely grate the garlic and immediately add to the lemon juice (alternatively, you can use a garlic press or finely mince the garlic with a knife). Set aside for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans, bean cooking liquid, and garlic-lemon juice mixture. Process beans, scraping down sides of food processor bowl as needed with a rubber spatula, into a mostly smooth paste, about 1 minute. With food processor running, slowly stream in olive oil, and continue to process until mixture is very smooth, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and adjust consistency with additional bean cooking liquid if necessary. Bean dip can be served right away or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For Serving: Transfer bean dip to large, wide serving bowl and use back of large spoon to spread bean dip up sides of bowl, leaving well at center. Spoon tomato salad in center of well. Serve with bread.
Rimmed quarter baking sheet or 10-inch stainless steel skillet, food processor
Cooked dried beans (and their cooking liquid) have much better flavor and texture than canned beans, so we highly recommend using them in this recipe, if possible.
If using canned beans, substitute bean cooking liquid with 1 tablespoon (15ml) hot water, adding more as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Canned beans won't purée as smoothly as cooked dried beans, but using hot water helps achieve a smoother texture.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The white bean dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The tomato salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Bring both to room temperature before serving.