Cannellini Bean Dip

Makes 3 C

So, remember I said something about minimal cooking?  Well, doing what I can to minimize turning on the stove or oven?  This is another example.  Dip!  Bean dips are such a great way to get a good snack (or sometimes meal…let’s be real about this!) in the middle of the day.  They are also a wonderful appetizer.  I took the opportunity and cooked twice as many beans as I needed because it had been a while since we’d had these and a summer white bean salad had already made an appearance in my dreams.  Of course I dream about food!

Beans and I…we’re good friends.  I’m Colombian and like anyone of Latin origin will attest, beans are part of our everyday and sometimes several parts of our day!  As a vegetarian, I was more than grateful for this.  I relied heavily on various beans for protein, which much like animal protein, builds and repairs body tissue.  They are super blood sugar regulators and thus an excellent choice for anyone with insulin issues.  They’re low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, folate and other B vitamins.  They are also a wonderful source of dietary fiber.  There are 2 types, insoluble and soluble, and both are critical for our health.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve so it acts as a sponge, literally “cleaning” up by ushering toxins out.  (That’s why our gut and colon stay healthy!)  Soluble fiber dissolves and becomes gel-like in our gut making us feel full, longer. Overeating, while tempting, is never good.  Quantity destroys quality in anything!  (I might have said that before.)  Anyway, thank you fiber and thank you beans!

For the record, Latinos aren’t the only ones with a bean habit.  Beans and legumes, “one of the earliest and most important cultivated crop, are grown everywhere that people farm”.¹  Indeed, most places I’ve traveled, I’ve run into some kind of bean along the way.  Honestly, I can’t wait to encounter more!

You’ll need:

1 C dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

1 1″ piece of kombu

1 bay leaf

2-3 cloves garlic confit*

3 T olive oil (from garlic confit)

1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice

To make:

1. Get the beans cooking!  Drain and rinse the beans, then add to a saucepan with water to cover.  Boil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, skimming the foam that forms.  Reduce heat to medium-low, dd thyme, rosemary, kombu and bay leaf, a pinch of sea salt and partially cover.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are tender.

2. Remove the herbs and kombu from beans, drain and let cool.

3. When cooled, add remaining ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  You may want to adjust the garlic, oil, lemon and salt so play with it until you get it to your liking.  These measurements worked great for me:)

4. Serve with crudite (my go-to choice for a super healthy snack that sometimes turns into lunch) crispy country bread, pita bread or flat bread.  Gluten-free crackers are also delish with this dip!

5. Enjoy!

*The Garlic Confit adds depth to the garlicky flavor.  It’s umami-ish which translates into deliciousness.  However, this dip comes out lovely using fresh, raw garlic as well.  Start with 1-2 cloves and adjust from there;)

¹ Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Garlic Confit

Makes 1 C

The very word confit conjures images of haute food, ultra gourmet, inaccessible restaurants, maybe even a dress code?  It does sound fancy but it’s often the simplest things that are the most prized.  I guarantee you will climb a few ranks as a gourmand with this confit sitting in your fridge.  I also guarantee that once you try it, you’ll find it makes a great staple, too.  Don’t be surprised if you’re making batches of this weekly and/or giving some away.  There’s something about sharing something delicious.  It’s like sharing joy.

Confit is the fancy way of saying ‘cooked for a long time, submerged in broth or fat, for flavor and preservation’.  Back in the good ol’ days before refrigeration, people had to get creative about preserving food.  (This is really interesting to study as different parts of the world used different methods best suited to their environment.  Thank goodness because the flavors are bold and the nutrients multiplied!)  Confit originated in Southern France and was a way to preserve meat.  Do yourself a favor and try duck confit.  (Remember I was vegetarian for nearly a decade, so such recommendations don’t come lightly!)

Garlic.  Oh Garlic.  It’s got a smelly reputation that apparently repels vamps.  That’s not all this member of the allium family is capable of.  Here’s the rundown:  Garlic is anti-carcinogenic (especially good for colon cancer), anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal.  It is amazing in reducing blood pressure. (Click here for a great explanation on the contraction and dilation of blood vessels explaining blood pressure.)  It is also a blood sugar and cholesterol regulator.  It reduces fever and helps combat colds and flus.  Have you ever tried garlic lemonade?  It’s a great home remedy to add to your repertoire.  (Recipe coming soon via my sister.)  Garlic is great at eliminating toxins from the body.  For some, it is considered an aphrodisiac and therefore verboten in the diet for Buddhist monks as well as strict followers of Hinduism.  That’s a lot range for a little bulb.  That explains why it’s used universally as seasoning and as a home remedy…pretty much since the beginning of time!

So, what to do with all that confit you’re cooking up?  It’s great to season soups, vegetables and meat.  It makes a great addition to marinades and salad dressings.  And, it’s great alone, smeared on a crispy piece of country bread.  Yum!

You’ll need:

2 heads garlic (roughly about 1 C), cloves separated

1 C (approx) extra virgin olive oil

+ water and ice for blanching and shocking

To make:

1. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, fill a bowl with water and add 2 C of ice.  Blanch the garlic – Add the cloves to the boiling water and let stay for 30 seconds.  Promptly remove cloves from boiling water.  Shock the garlic – add it to the ice water.

2. Peel the skins off the garlic and trim off the root ends.  Let cloves dry in a clean kitchen towel.  (I also cut the fatter cloves in half for evenness in cooking.)

3. When dry, add the cloves to a saucepan and add the oil.  The oil should fully cover the garlic.

4. Heat over low-medium heat until small bubbles start to form and then reduce heat to low.  Skim any skins that come to the surface and stir the cloves so that they cook evenly.  Your confit is done when the gloves are a golden color and look soft.  It should take about 40 mins.  Let cool in saucepan before adding to jar.

5. Store in an air-tight container for 7-10 days.  Don’t forget to use the oil, too!  You’ve worked hard at it!

6. Enjoy!