It’s great to have a few stellar appetizers you can whip up at the last minute from the stash in your pantry and fridge, especially at this time of year. It’s also terrific to have a few tempting and healthy apps in your repertoire. This dip is both.
It’s similar to hummus, but uses tender white beans instead of chickpeas, and parmesan instead of tahini. Like most dips, it’s tasty right away but benefits from a few hours in the fridge, to get those flavors melding.
There’s not a lot of parmesan, just enough to provide a salty hint to the mild beans. The lemon brightens the flavors and balances the creamy texture. A few minutes in the food processor, and you have a dish ready to go.
Chef Art Smith once commented on Top Chef that if your food is bland or needs seasoning, start with a little acid first — then salt. I’ve never forgotten that. Now I try a few drops of lemon juice, vinegar or wine before I add extra salt. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
In the summer, add a few tablespoons of fresh herbs. I used dried herbs because 1) it’s full-on winter here, and 2) we do not have a single window that gets direct sun, so an indoor herb garden is but a dream. The dip is still darned yummy.
Lemony Parmesan White Bean Dip
makes about 1 1/2 cups; easily doubled
1 small clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried mixed herbs (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)
1/3 cup grated parmesan
On a cutting board, sprinkle the minced garlic with a pinch or two of salt. Mash the salt into the garlic with the flat of a knife until it becomes a coarse purée.
Pour the beans into a food processor. Add the garlic, a few grinds of pepper, 2 tbs. of the lemon juice, the scallions, oil, and herbs. Blend, stopping to scrape down the sides now and then, for 2 full minutes. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with more lemon and salt, if necessary. Add the parmesan and pulse to combine. It’s tasty right away, but better if you can let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Serve with vegetables, pita chips, crackers, or tortilla chips; use instead of mayo on a sandwich.